Young: Wine industry cultivating women entrepreneurship

Over the past several weeks, as often happens to me in my journeys throughout the Central Okanagan, people invariably draw to my attention something or someone with a genuine entrepreneurial outlook.

In my column this week, I found myself overwhelmed with this particular honey wine saga.

I was encouraged to try the product and meet the entrepreneur who brought it altogether in a short period of time.

This story is the beginning of a series of entrepreneurial tales in the coming weeks that excite  my belief in our Okanagan people.

We talk a good talk about what we as a region are accomplishing collaboratively, and yet I continue to wonder why the province, some municipalities and a handful of community-based organizations are still not getting  the subject of entrepreneurial development.

There seems to be a propensity to question everything and do nothing attitude among a cadre of nayayers, when all they need to do if they care at all about socio-economic development in the region and our amazing province is conduct some research, i.e. stop, look and listen would be a good start.

A few short years ago, the National Entrepreneurship Week began in November as a test in the USA and Britain.

Today, more than 100 nations of the world participate with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation demonstrating exceptional leadership for our nation.

Many countries have entrepreneurship policies and strategies as do several of our Canadian provinces along with provincial ministers of innovation and entrepreneurship.

More books, magazine articles, university and college programs along with a plethora of entrepreneurship and technology centres have been created globally—all highlighting that entrepreneurship is here to stay. Now, in our believed Okanagan region, one has only to “lift the lid” to experience the  beautiful examples of the genuine entrepreneurial spirit.

So with that, let me tell you a story today about one of those entrepreneurs.

My journey to try honeywine led me to the winery “Queen Bee,” Judie Barta, originator and owner of Meadow Vista Honey Wines, located in West Kelowna since 2009.

Barta and I had actually met previously at an orientation workshop for the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society.

Over coffee, Barta reminded me of that occurrence, and of talking to me then about another entrepreneur experience she had embarked on called Mermaid Boat Cleaning.

For this business startup, she had assembled a team of females to clean boats of all sizes inside and externally.

I can recall at that time her tenacity and conviction for Mermaid’s business potential.

So, as I had never heard of hence nor tasted honey wine—this was going to be a treat and capture my interest.

Meadow Vista Honey Wines is an organic winery that Barta created with her love for organic food and wine, a dream in the making she had been visualizing for the past 15 years.

Meadow Vista is positioned and certainly dedicated to being the Okanagan Valley’s premier organic meadery and Canada’s best selling producer of organic sparkling honey wine.

Her story begins in Coburg, Ont., where she was born with two sisters and a stepfather who operated a Canadian Tire in that Ontario region.

Barta quickly told me she began her journey within the world of self-employment during Grade 6 when she worked both in orchards and for her family’s Canadian Tire store.

Over the years, Barta honed her business skills after high school in the banking and retail industries.

Barta formally entered the entrepreneurial world in 1990 in Belleville, Ont., taking out a small loan to start and during that year.

The ever- adventurous Barta moved west to Banff and had her baptism in the wine industry, becoming quickly entrenched in the magical world of the science of wine.

From 1990 to 1993, Barta enhanced her knowledge base and work experiences working in the food and beverage industry in Victoria, moving to the valley in 1993 and joining up with the godfather of the Okanagan wine industry—Sumac Ridge Vineyards &Winery.

The period of 1994 to ’96 offered significant change to this entrepreneur’s life when circumstances prompted her to receive her accreditation as a massage therapist to complement yet another entrepreneurial dream  —to create two health and  fitness spas here in the valley.

In 2003, this amazing young entrepreneur built the building to house her new spa ventures while Mermaid Boat Cleaners was turned to a franchising entity in 2008, allowing Barta to focus into the realm of corporate wellness consulting.

Through all the journeys of her youth leading to her ultimate entrepreneurial venture in the wine industry, a meeting with Dr. Alan Marks was the final step in helping her  to  create Meadow Vista honey wine products and move Barta into her true entrepreneurial existence here in the valley.

Meadow Vista honey wine is a joy to experience, wonderful award winning honey wine products that are today being sold across Canada and into the U.S.

She even has enquiries from Asia moving her forward.  She shared with me the broader scope of her honey wine dream—the building and completion of her honey farm, new winery and wines hop along with a unique food and wine experience, all contained within the confines of a beautiful country inn right here in our midst of West Kelowna.

Barta shared with me a tasting of three of her honey wine products, and I never would have guessed that honeywine could be so enjoyable and satisfying. And, with no sulphates added, it’s a healthy wine to boot.

I encourage you to view the winery’s website at and make plans for a visit to “Queen Bee Judie.”

Trust me, you won’t get stung.

Joel Young is an entrepreneurial leadership coach, educator and consultant and founder of Okanagan Valley Entrepreneujrs Society


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