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How I fell in love with Okanagan Wine

Hi wine fans, my name is Javen (sounds like jay-ven) and I am excited to share my Okanagan wine blog with you. I grew up in North Vancouver, BC and graduated from Capilano University with a Bachelors of Communications degree. As do many who live in the Lower Mainland, I would escape the Vancouver rainforest by driving four hours to reach the sunny, picture perfect Okanagan. I fell in love with the Okanagan before I had an interest in BC wine. It was those visits to Kelowna back in 2018 that prompted me to book my first wine tour with Sip Happens. It seemed like a popular thing to do in Kelowna so I thought I’d give it a try.

Well, that changed everything for me, especially while visiting Quails' Gate and being wowed by the precision of the vines and view of the lake. There was an energy in the air that I cannot describe, a feeling of intrigue and excitement. The Sommelier Mike Lee was standing amongst the vines speaking to the group with great enthusiasm about the history of Quails' Gate and the Stewart Family. Suddenly, a switch turned on in my mind that made it clear I was meant to be in the Okanagan and work in the wine industry. Later that year my wife and I got married in Kelowna, and in 2021 we moved to this beautiful city.

When I decided to pursue wine and switch from working in the dental software industry as a business development representative, I saw an ad on Craigslist for Everything Wine as a Wine Consultant. Two weeks later I was hired and had the opportunity to register for WSET 1. This provided me with some basic information to confidently speak to customers about wine. At that time, I didn’t drink much wine. If I ventured into a liquor store, 90+ wine point wine stickers labeled on bottles caught my attention and usually were the ones I would buy. Not because I knew anything about the producer, but because I wanted a good wine for a value price. Most often they were California red blends or Cabernet Sauvignon.

I felt a sense of accomplishment thinking I was choosing a quality wine to serve for guests. As the months went by working as a Wine Consultant, I made the decision to build my expertise in a specific country. The store I was employed at has around 5,000 bottles of wine and great selections from countries all over the world. Even though I had not tasted much Okanagan wine, I decided to go all-in for this region.

For three years straight I visited the Okanagan at least twice a year. The goal was to visit as many wineries as possible that we carried at the wine store. I had my work cut out for me because the store carried a LOT of them. Each year, a sense of excitement would develop inside of me and that turned into many late nights researching where to go, and what would be the most efficient route to get to each winery. After my first visit to Naramata, Oliver and the SimiIkameen Valley, I fell in love.

The diversity of wineries from those with grand tasting rooms to garage wineries were amazing. I quickly learned that I had made the right decision to focus on BC wine because now the label meant something to me. Not a 90+ point sticker. Memories of chatting with the winemaker, petting the winery dog, and walking amongst the vines now come alive when looking at a label. Those memories turn into a story which is what wine is. It is alive and it has a story to share with you.

Over the past three years I have completed: Canadian Wine Scholar, WSET 2, BC Wine Ambassador Level 1, and a Food and Wine Pairing Certificate. Before I moved to Kelowna, I started a private at-home wine tasting company where I would pour wines and speak about them in front of groups of people. When the lockdowns hit, that wasn’t able to continue so I created an Instagram account @Poured by Jay. Here I write reviews on the wines I drink, promote local wineries, and encourage my followers to buy BC. I found this to be a great way to put my communications background to use, and over time, I developed some wonderful relationships with local wineries and the Instagram wine community.

Last March, I was hired at Kitsch Wines in East Kelowna and worked in the tasting room for the 2021 season. It was a great experience and learned a lot about wine, plus I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty in the vineyard. I am thrilled to be living in the heart of the Okanagan wine county and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

This blog will cover a wide range of wine topics relating to Okanagan wine.

Thank you for reading!


Javen - Poured By Jay

Hi, I'm Poured by Jay.

If you’re here, you must be interested in Okanagan wine. I have lots of resources to guide you as you explore all that Okanagan wine has to offer.

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