Jeff and Niva Martin come from the Riverina area of Australia, and have been involved with grape growing and wine making since early childhood. Even today, much of their extended family is heavily involved in the Australian wine industry.
Jeff became involved in the wine industry at the age of eighteen, when he was employed by renowned Australian producer McWilliams as a trainee winemaker at their half million case Beelbangera facility. Here, Jeff gained a wealth of experience in a wide range of styles: table wines, fortified wines, and even fine brandy distillation. In 1983, he received one of the first degrees in enology from Charles Sturt University. During his fourteen-year career with McWilliams, he worked with many of their vineyards, from the “cool climate” hilltops area in New South Wales to the famous “terra rosa” of Coonawarra in South Australia. In 1989, Jeff became the chief red winemaker for the McWilliams group, with his wines winning major awards at Australian wine shows.
In 1989, after a working sabbatical in Napa California, a short trip to British Columbia opened a door that couldn’t be closed. Jeff and Niva returned in 1994 with their two young daughters for what was termed “a working holiday” and were captured by the sun-drenched beauty of the Okanagan Valley.
There, Jeff found a place as one of the first university-trained winemakers in the valley. He spearheaded production for Quails’ Gate winery in Kelowna, where his wines were an immediate success, setting new benchmarks for Canadian wine.
Armed with twenty years of experience in both the Canadian and Australian wine industries, the Martins fulfilled their lifelong dream of producing world-class wine in their own winery. Jeff now dedicates his experience to producing some totally unique wine styles at LA FRENZ. His talent is widely recognized and he still regularly judges at international wine shows in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Niva is the administration manager for LA FRENZ. She has a diverse background in sales and marketing, as well as a good palate and a lifelong appreciation of world class wines. Jeff is very much a “hands on” winemaker, from bud burst in the vineyard to final blending and bottling. During the 2006 crush, Jeff celebrated a milestone in his life. Turning fifty, he realized that he was completing his 36th vintage, having made wine in both hemispheres.