When New Zealand's JOIY wine became available in Canada last summer, it was nearly impossible to track down this instant crowd favourite. It sold out immediately due to it’s amazing taste, creative packaging and innovative spirit.
JOIY is a modern spin on prosecco. It is a New Zealand Sparkling Riesling that you can sip on it’s own, or mix into cocktails. It is available now in perfectly Instagrammable cans for your summer patio nights and picnics.
I was able to connect with Chris Archer, Winemaker of JOIY and ask him 6ix questions from how he was drawn to winemaking to what foods he thinks pairs best with his wine.
1. What drew you to winemaking, I see you have been involved in the craft for 25 years?
I had a choice between cattle farming in the Hunter Valley in Australia for my family, but looking around after high school, at that time, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. But, I needed a job in between high school and the military. I had the opportunity to join the coal mines, work on the cattle farm, or be part of the wine industry in the Hunter Valley. So the decision was obvious.
At that time though, wine was not popular, back in the late 80s, it was a beer market. But I was offered a job, and if they were happy with me, they’d put me through a degree. So I pretty much signed my life up for the next seven years. I realized I wasn’t interested in shining shoes and wearing a uniform, so the air force never got a lock in. That combined with a parental influence, my parents were always big into wine, drove me in this direction.
2. In Ontario we have a wine award specifically for the best label. I love having wine on the table at dinner that is both beautiful and a conversation starter. I think JOIY is both. What was the inspiration behind your label?
It would break most winemaker’s hearts to realize most wine purchasing decisions come from a label and not their craft. But it’s so true, and I never realized that until I started our own business. I was able to see all these different brands, wines and labels and, incredibly after 20-odd years in the industry, discovered the importance of getting all the factors right: the label, the taste, the technique. The very creation of JOIY was based on our realization on how many things you needed to get right.
Getting to the story behind JOIY’s label, you know I went into this knowing all the $20 and under wines were all production-driven. Their back labels were all usually just words and these more affordable wines lacked soul, they lack heart. So JOIY is about attacking that market with a wine brand that doesn’t follow the traditional path, but has an absolute soul, creativity and interest involved in it, without using the standard marketing rules.
With the packaging, when we went live from the beginning we knew we wanted to be small format and ‘save’ Riesling. We wanted to make it more intellectual, and selective, and not high volume. So, we wanted to make a label representing how I saw Riesling tasting: it’s classical, it’s fun, it’s edgy, it’s adaptable, it’s aromatic, it comes from Germanic origins. And referring to our label, this is where we pulled in the Germanic visual elements.
3. What do you want your branding to communicate about your wine?
We drink to escape, we drink to travel. If a winemaker has done their job right, if you drink a Burgundy, you go to Burgundy.
JOIY is about escapism. That is why we truly drink wine. It’s to wash away the shitty days we’ve had. It’s to treat yourself. And this is the kind of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feel we wanted to bring to our brand and box.
We wanted our brand to appeal to women, because there is no brand that appeals to women through sophistication. We didn’t want our brand to be ‘girly’. For me, the image of a powerful woman is the most appealing thing in the world - and for me, that is who we want to attract to drink our wine. And we want them to be involved in the creativity. We want to capture that feeling of our drinkers in the wine and in our brand.
4. What is your favourite food to pair with JOIY?
JOIY can handle quite a lot of flavours. Anything that works with citrus will work with JOIY...as long as it’s not in direct competition. I don’t like vinaigrettes with JOIY, but anything with a slight spice. It’s so usable. I love characters like fennel and licorice with JOIY. There are some dark notes within Riesling that pair nicely with those characteristics.
5. Can you think of any specifically Canadian food that you think would pair well with JOIY?
You know, I love poutine. All the variations of poutine I like. Especially the spicy ones, or ones with duck confit...that is my favourite food of Canada and it would go very well with JOIY. It’s the ultimate comfort food for me.
6. When I think of wine, I think of it as a culmination of personal history. Is there any aspect to your process that reflects on your personal history?
JOIY is the culmination of my history in the wine industry. I’ve pretty much used tricks I’ve learned from Champagne, the Hunter Valley, New Zealand, white Bordeaux, and Spanish sherries. As a winemaker, there have been so many wines that have influenced me. I’ve spent my entire life drinking world wine, and I really love fusions. JOIY is an absolute fusion.
I see wine in structure, I don’t worry about the flavours and aromatics, you can influence them to a degree, but at the end of the day, they are what you have and, as a winemaker, my role is to shape them. It's more three dimensional to me. There is a signature to my wine.
I hate clunky wines, so JOIY is a balance of your skeletal structure and a density and weight that really empowers the wine. We are the only ones who are as dedicated to Riesling. The whole JOIY brand and this whole endeavour is about saving it. The true strength of Riesling is it’s ageability and it’s texture as it ages.
So pretty much every decision from the grape, through from harvest, right through the making of the wine is a representation of my knowledge and history.
Megan and Chris were able to be connected via phone, so the below interview captures the essence of their conversation. Edits were made to maintain readability.