EAT’s Wine Chain: Matthew Mavety from Blue Mountain Winery


Kettle Valley Winery’s Bob Ferguson passes the glass to Matthew Mavety from Blue Mountain Winery.  


Matthew Mavety Winemaker Blue Mountain Winery. Photo by Claire Sear

Quick Stats: Matthew Mavety

  • Second generation wine maker at Blue Mountain Winery. Official winemaker as of 2003.
  • Cellar rat from birth. University of British Columbia-Agricultural Economics, Masters Viticulture Studies-Lincoln University, New Zealand.
  • Willing to take risks to express the terroir.  Reputation for favoring wild yeast and acidity in the pursuit of fine structured wines.
  • Varitals: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir.
  • Sparkling-yes. MethodeTraditonnelle
  • Exclusively estate-grown wines.
  • One of British Columbia’s first cult wineries-2011 marks the celebration of Blue Mountain’s 21st vintage.


First BC wine?

Okanagan wineshine, aka home-made from the late eighties when my Dad was transitioning from a farmer growing grapes to becoming a winemaker. Shared with friends at a cabin after a hard day of skiing in whatever glass or mug was available.


Favorite wine region outside of Canada?

Burgundy, France.


Epiphany wine?

For me wines that stand out – Barrel Tasting in Burgundy the cellar was in Chambolle-Musigny.


Favorite home-cooked meal and wine pairing?

Osso Buco and Blue Mountain Pinot Noir.


Dead man walking-last wine request?

A bottle of Comte George Vogue Bonnes Mares 1991


Best thing about living in the Okanagan?

Sunshine and mountains.


Favorite Cocktail?

Beer.  On occasion Pastis*.  (*An anise-flavored liquer from France usually an aperitif and not for the light-hearted as it typically has 40-45% alcohol percent.  Usually mixed with cold spring water.  Often associated with its predecessor, absinthe).


What beer is currently in your fridge?

Pilsner Urquell from Plzen in  the Czech Rebulic  


What restaurants have you recently eaten at?

In July, I was in Niagara, Ontario for a Chardonnay festival and afterwards we dined in Toronto at Frank’s Kitchen. And with harvest, we eat breath and sleep the winery so I haven’t been out recently. The last Okanagan restaurant in my memory was Penticton’s Amante Bistro.


What BC restaurant first carried Blue Mountain Wines?

In 1991, Brent Hayman showed up one day in the middle of harvest and left with a case of wine. And the rest is history- Blue Mountain was launched into Seasons on the Park and Brent was pivotal in helping our wines find their way into many BC restaurants through his interactions with fellow restaurateurs and sommeliers.


Can you find Blue Mountain Wines outside of British Columbia?

Yes- Alberta is of course a loyal market. We have expanded into Ontario and we also have a small distributor carrying our wines in New York.  Our current focus is having our wines in Quebec.


Last wines you recently tasted or enjoyed?

We are currently working with a crew primarily from Germany and Alsace, so we have been drinking a lot of Rieslings. Most recently 8th Generation’s 2010 Riesling and a German 2010 Riesling from Zimmerman.


Special wine memory?

Wine is my day to day living.  There is something new every day and it is constantly changing. My vineyards are the most important. Every day is a wine memory.


As of today what is your favorite grape varietal?

Gamay Noir. This varietal has so much potential and is under-rated.  Beaujolais Nouveau essentially destroyed the image of Gamay Noir especially Pedigree Gamay Noir which can age beautifully.  Interestingly we started growing Gamay Noir in 1990 almost by chance. We were transitioning from hybrid-grapes to vinifera grapes when our consultant from France visited the farm and my father asked if there was any other varietal we should be planting and without hesitation he replied, “Gamay Noir”.  In the Okanagan, Gamay Noir is now being grown by other wineries but their focus is primarily as a blend or for Rose.  There is an appreciation growing for pedigree Gamay Noir. We currently make a thousand cases a year and always sell out.


How would you compare the varietal characteristic of a BC grape versus another area?

There is often a strong licorice / anise character that stands out in wine made from the Okanagan. This note can be found in our Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


Is there a distinctive micro-climate special to Blue Mountain Winery?

I refer to our climate as that of The “Vaseux Bench”- wineries and vineyards located north of McIntyre Bluff. Our soil is very rocky and is very different from the sandy soil of the Black Sage Bench. We are lucky to be a few degrees warmer in the winter which can make the difference between life or death of a vine, and we are few degrees colder in the summer which is wonderful for our white varietals.  Blasted Church Vineyards although part of the Corkscrew wineries has a very different terroir.


Anything new?

Since 1994 , Blue Mountain Winery has concentrated on the varietals of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir  but in 2006 I decided to plant Sauvignon Blanc. My trips to Sancerre, France really made me believe that we have the right growing conditions to excel in Sauvignon Blanc. Our biggest risk with Sauvignon Blanc is winter injury to the vines.  Also, for the first time this year in August, we began regular hours for our tasting room which will continue again next season.


Your  favourite Blue Mountain Wine?

Gamay Noir 1999.


Winemaker anywhere in the world you admire?

Francois Millet, the winemaker at Comte Georges de Vogüé  in Burgundy who interestingly spent some of his childhood growing up in Alberta and has been working the same vineyard in Burgundy since 1983. His winemaking style is focused on of expressing the true nature of the terroir and also the importance of acidity in a good structured wine.


Your vision for the future of Blue Mountain Winery?

To move forward, the Okanagan needs to work collectively for global expansion. Today, most vineyards sell all of their wine through British Columbia and Alberta.  In the future, the Okanagan as a region will need to export.  We need to put the plans in place today, to ensure our success in the future.  Ontario is working collectively and is starting to put their name on the global wine map for chardonnay because they have chosen this varietal.  In the Okanagan, we aren’t currently known for any specific varietals. This needs to change- when you think of the great wine regions of the world, you also think varietal. What varietals should be our Okanagan signature?  We need to work collectively to establish our signature varietals. Also, our wine prices need to be reflective of the global stage.  BC wines that are overpriced will not be able to compete and our prices need to be reflective of the wine.


BC wine/winemaker that you are currently taking note of? 

I am excited about the new wave of winemakers that are currently in the Okanagan from other countries such as New Zealand, Australia and South Africa who are bringing new ways of making wine.  They are more willing to take risks and try new techniques based on the terroir than traditional winemakers who tend to be more schooled in their approach to wine-making. Honorable mentions go to David Paterson from New Zealand at Tantalus Vineyard and Matthew Holmes from Australia who has moved to the soon to be opened Liquidity but the wine glass will go to………………..




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