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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, November 11 2021

Canada's Best Performing Small Winery

By: Anthony Gismondi
2021 National Wine Awards of Canada

Consistency is the hallmark of any successful wine producer, which explains how Jeff and Niva Martin and the team at La Frenz Winery have found themselves back at the top of the heap again as The Best Performing Small Winery of the Year at the National Wine Awards of Canada.

Consistency is the hallmark of any successful wine producer, which explains how Jeff and Niva Martin and the team at La Frenz Winery have found themselves back at the top of the heap again as The Best Performing Small Winery of the Year at the National Wine Awards of Canada. The winery previously took home the title in 2017 and is thrilled to have won such an important accolade again. We get Jeff's reaction in the video interview below.

This time the award comes as Jeff and Niva are stepping back just a bit to let the next generation, daughter Elise Martin and winemaker Dominic McCosker and team lead, the way into the future. It’s been a fun ride for the family that began in 1994 when Jeff arrived in West Kelowna to take over the winemaking at Quails’ Gate.

Before all that, Jeff worked at age eighteen for the renowned Australian producer McWilliams as a trainee winemaker. He was given a lifetime of experience in short order before earning one of the first degrees in enology from Charles Sturt University. After fourteen years of working with many vineyards at McWilliams, he was named their chief red winemaker. Then, a short sabbatical in California got him to Napa Valley,

Jeff and Niva returned in 1994 with their two young daughters for what was termed “a working holiday” and never left. In 1999 The Martins pursued a lifelong dream and opened La Frenz on a very quiet Naramata Bench alongside six other wineries. Australian winemaker Dominic McCosker arrived in 2014, allowing Jeff to spend more time in the vineyards. Today, that job is in the capable hands of second generation Elise.

The winery has become a tight team of late, and its performance at The Nationals is proof it is all in good hands. The winery named after Jeff’s German grandfather remains small at less than 10,000 cases, but the results in 2021 are big. La Frenz entered 21 wines and grabbed two platinum medals, six gold, five silver and seven bronze medals to grab this title.

That’s the good news. The bad news is the word has been out for years about La Frenz, so if you want to get any wines, you will have to join the wine club and get in line to get your allotment of their wines.  For the record, the top five wines that figured in the Best Performing Small Winery calculation are La Frenz NV Liqueur Muscat Fortified, La Frenz 2019 Reserve Ensemble White Blends, La Frenz 2019 Reserve Chardonnay, La Frenz 2018 Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard and the La Frenz 2020 Riesling 21B Freedom 75 Vineyard. 

Related: 

2021 National Wine Awards Canada Results

Sparkling Memories - 2021 NWAC Sparkling Wine Results

Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For over 30 years, he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. The twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through Postmedia Network to millions of readers. In addition, Anthony co-hosts the BC Food & Wine Radio Show, broadcast in 18 markets across B.C. and available as a podcast on Spotify, Apple and iHeart Radio and more. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million users a month from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource of full tasting notes and intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers.