Saving The Queen Bee: The Story of Judie Barta

Published on September 5, 2012

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

www.meadowvista.ca     email: wine@meadowvista.ca


~ Sarah Willard