For over twenty years, the perpetually youthful ‘Queen Bee’ Judie Barta has hovered around BC’s wine industry. She’s worn many hats: marketing, sales, educator, and entrepreneur. Festival patrons know her as the ‘pretty proprietor’ of Meadow Vista Honey Wines: Okanagan’s first organic meadery. Many know her wines. Few realize how close she is to losing it all. Knowing both, I had to share her story. During her first wine tasting, Barta immediately “fell in love with the wine industry” and researched where she could fit in. She left to become a massage therapist, seeing a connection between the two fields.

The wine industry is so sensual – I use all my senses – looking, smelling, tasting – those are such important things to me, what I loved about it. Aromatherapy/massage blew my mind – I learned what we eat, what we smell – these things change the way we feel. Meadow Vista had a serendipitous start in 2008/09: a chance encounter between Winemaker Dr. Alan Marks and Barta.

(Mead’s) very dynamic, very creative, has some amazing qualities, and fulfills a beautiful niche – a food component – that I hadn’t thought of before.Meadow Vista gained instant notoriety, winning ‘Best New Winery’ at the Edmonton and Calgary wine festivals in 2010. Despite on-going accolades, Barta has secretly been struggling to keep her company afloat. Juggling the demands of work and being a single-mom has taken it’s toll.I have an amazing team of people ready to go, a bank willing to support the project, everything… I just need that cash investment. It’s an opportunity to be a part of a business with a great ROE and be a part of this community that’s being created.Barta dreams of an idyllic little farm: a meadow filled with produce – from grapes to edible flowers, where she and her daughters can make and sell their honey, mead and honey-based products.

The bees inspire her to persevere, saying “when you work with bees, you learn to be calm; when you work like bees, you learn to work hard and be strong.Someone said, A diamond is just a piece of coal that handles stress extremely well. (I read it on Barta’s fridge). Long live the Queen Bee     email:


~ Sarah Willard