Among the Okanagan Valley wineries, Blue Mountain can make the rare claim of 40 years of continuous grape production by one family. Blue Mountain makes only estate-grown wines. To the founders, Ian and Jane Mavety, "estate" means more than the piece of land; it extends to the practice of both viticulture and wine making by the same owner-operators. At Blue Mountain, it also means the use of 100% estate-grown grapes. Following the estate concept to its fullest extent sets Blue Mountain apart from many North American wineries.
Born in Vancouver in 1948, Ian graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1971 with a bachelor of science in agriculture. After university, he moved to the Okanagan Falls where he and Jane acquired a derelict orchard and converted it to grape vines. The picturesque property overlooks Vaseux Lake, is surrounded by protected wilderness area and is framed by steep mountains that have a blue tint when in shadow (hence, the winery’s name). The property’s undulating terrain and its mountain protection provide beneficial micro-climates for grape growing.
After two decades of growing premium French hybrid grapes for wineries throughout the Okanagan, the Mavetys in 1985 began switching to premium vinifera grapes for a winery of their own. They toured vineyards in Europe for help on choosing suitable varieties. The terroir that most reminded them of Okanagan Falls was Burgundy. The wines of Burgundy, Champagne and Alsace appealed to their palates. Choosing varieties that flourish in those regions, they anchored the Blue Mountain vineyard with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, supported by Pinot Blanc and Gamay Noir. A sixth variety, Sauvignon Blanc, was planted in 2007.
They launched the winery in 1991 with the help of consultant Raphael Brisbois, a French winemaker who had once made Champagne at Piper Heidsieck and who was then making sparkling wine at a winery in Sonoma. His skills were ideally suited to the portfolio of Pinot Noir and sparkling wines that Blue Mountain developed.
Brisbois remains involved with Blue Mountain but became much less active as Ian and then Matt took over as winemakers. Like his father, Matt graduated in agriculture from the University of British Columbia. He also did postgraduate studies in viticulture and winemaking at Lincoln University in New Zealand. He and his sister, Christie, grew up on the Blue Mountain vineyard. Born in 1975, Matt began working part-time in the vineyard while in high school and joined the winery full-time in 1997. Christie, who has a degree in art history from the University of Victoria, has also taken a number of wine education courses, including a sommelier diploma. She has taken over many of the marketing responsibilities formerly handled by her mother, Jane. However, everyone participates in vineyard and winery work, sharing talent and knowledge with each other.
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