The Bartier Bros. of the Okanagan Valley
We’re from this Valley. We grew up here, we know it, we love it, we are a product of it, and we feel responsible to it. Our wines are an expression of the valley, being true to the language that can describe any aspect of the Okanagan; bright, fresh, refreshing, pristine, unspoilt, alive, and so on . . .
Our ambition is to make great wines. Great wine can be found all over the world, but it’s important for us not to merely copy those wines, because by definition, great wine is unique and identifiable to its origin. And of course, great wine also by definition should be delicious. In the Okanagan Valley, we have a rare and precious combination of growing conditions; relatively high altitude, desert climate (hot days, cool nights), low humidity, tolerable winters from our moderating lakes, young soils lain over glacial till, and of course all of this occurs at a very high latitude from the equator. The Okanagan epitomizes all of the great qualities, which the entire global wine industry scrambles to define itself as being.
The Bartier Brothers Partnership
Don and Michael are brothers raised in the Okanagan Valley. As young men they took different career paths – Don an accountant, Michael a winemaker - but have remained close. Michael has pined for his own winery to make his style of wine, but lacked the business and financial acumen for this undertaking. Don has long been a wine enthusiast, and indeed about the best customer of each winery that Michael worked for. Loyalty and partisan feelings aside, Don liked Michael’s style of winemaking. With his fascination in wine and advice from Michael, Don planted a small vineyard at his wife Sheila’s family property in Summerland. Michael watched this project closely, and helped a lot.
Either Don passed Michael’s test, or Michael laid a trap that Don walked into.
In either event, the stage was set for the partnership of the Bartier Bros., two brothers, who between them had a vineyard, business expertise, viticulture experience, an accountant, a winemaker, and most importantly, an abiding respect for their Valley and the desire to represent it well.
A bit about Don Bartier
Don Bartier grew up in the Okanagan Valley but moved to Calgary as a young man to pursue his accounting designation; he's been trying to get back ever since... In the oil and gas industry, since 1978, Don has worked in various accounting, management, and teaching roles. He's worked on some fascinating projects and is both proud and delighted to have his name associated with them. Being an Okanagan boy with a fiendish work ethic and a love of wine, Don, with his wife Sheila and her brother and sister, planted Sheila's family property in Summerland to grapes, making it the first of the Bartier Bros. estate lands. With lots of subterranean experience working in oil and natural gas, Don was ready to get on the land and grow something.
Don Bartier has participated in several organizations outside work:
Past player, past member and executive of the Calgary Hornets Rugby Football Club
Past registrar of and coach in the Calgary Northwest Ringette Association
Past president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Land Administration (CAPLA).
He and Sheila have two grown daughters out in the world and two Siberian Huskies at home. The funny thing is, all of this has prepared Don well for the wine industry. He knows how to put his head down and work.
A bit about Michael Bartier
Michael Bartier grew up in the Okanagan Valley, leaving as a young man for his education. After receiving a degree from the University of Victoria and working in wine sales on Vancouver Island for a few years, he and his wife Jodi returned home to the Okanagan. While looking for a "real job", Michael accepted casual work in a winery cellar. And, since he's still in the cellar, you could say he hasn't found a real job yet. Through on-the-job training, university extension, and distance learning at Washington State University and University of California Davis, Michael worked his way into a winemaking position. He quickly made a name for himself: first as a maker of white wines, earning two Canadian White Wine of the Year titles within three years, and then as a maker of red wines with several consecutive Lieutenant Governor's awards for his red wines. Michael enjoyed stints at Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards, Township 7, and Road 13, among others. Currently, he acts as consulting winemaker to what is surely the most coveted client list in North America among consulting winemakers (in fact there are rumours that other winemakers are plotting his demise).
Michael and Jodi are parents to a wonderfully active son, who is also their best friend. The whole family gets twitchy if they sit still too long, so they each run, ski, and do martial arts.
Michael Bartier's winemaking philosophy is simple:
Plant the correct grapes on the correct site.
Farm these well, thinking of the vineyard as a 200-year project.
Take the good fruit into the cellar, and make sure the vineyard characters, not the winemaker's manipulations, make it to the glass.
Don't try to copy Napa, or Bordeaux, or Burgundy; make Okanagan wine. These places make beautiful wines, but they're different from what the Okanagan gives, and they don't have the privilege of working with Okanagan grapes.
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