The Naramata Bench has a lot of wineries in a relatively small area. Most wineries on the Bench are small production, boutique-style wineries. Red Rooster has the appearance of a boutique winery but is actually owned by Andrew Peller (who also have Sandhill, Calona, Peller Estates, among others), although they started out originally as a boutique winery on property that is now home to Therapy Vineyards.
There is a real sense of community within the wineries on the Bench. In the short history of BC’s wine industry, they were the first region to really band together to promote the Naramata Bench as a wine tourist destination. The result was the Naramata Bench Winery Association which promotes member wineries at special tastings and hosts annual events such as the Tailgate Party every September.
However, not all wineries belong to the Association. Noticeably absent are wineries from the Holman-Lang group (Lang, Soaring Eagle, Zero Balance, etc), Ruby Tuesday (whose owners are the original founders of Red Rooster) and Joie Farm, who have always been a bit independant in their methods since starting in 2004. They have recently been named Wine Press Northwest’s BC Winery of the Year for 2010 and have a dedicated and loyal following among foodies in the know.
That sense of independant spirit is a large part of what makes Naramata special and something that you can easily experience first hand when you visit. And when you do, don’t forget to bring your camera.