BC Wine 101 – The Wineries of the Naramata Bench

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Welcome to BC Wine 101, where I will focus in on a different wine region in each episode* for anyone who is interested in learning about BC wine, including the wine bloggers who will be traveling to Penticton for the Wine Bloggers Conference coming up in June.

The Naramata Bench was recognized early on in the modern-era of the BC wine industry as a premium growing location in the Okanagan because of many factors, the most significant of which is the proximity of Okanagan Lake. The lake acts as a moderator of temperature that protects the vineyards from both frost and searing heat and allows many vineyards to confidently plant grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that would otherwise be extremely difficult at this latitude. 

Lang Vineyards high on the Bench

Lang Vineyards high on the Bench

The Bench is the wine tourist’s dream. There are so many small wineries in a relatively small area high on a bench of land that is so close to Penticton that locals can conveniently shop for their wines there. Some wineries are easily accessible by bicycle. There is a huge diversity of wineries here that are located close together so that driving times between them is the shortest of any wine region in BC. You can visit a lot of wineries in Naramata in a very short time.

You will still need multiple days to see them all, if that is your goal. There are wineries that focus almost exclusively on icewine or pinot noir. There are others with large and diverse portfolios that will surely have something for everyone’s taste. There are traditional wineries and there are theme-wineries with creative labels. Some make their own cheese. Some have restaurants or bistros. Some have guest houses or B&B’s. There is a huge diversity, but only one road.

That’s another thing that makes Naramata unique. The main (and only) road that will take you to the wineries doesn’t connect with anywhere else. It is a road to nowhere. While other regions are places that you drive through, you can’t do that here. Naramata is the destination, the end of the road in BC wine.

Fitting then that this is the final chapter in BC Wine 101. See you at the Wine Bloggers Conference!

Late day sunlight makes it to the Bench's western face.

Late day sunlight gives the vines on Bench more sunlight that other regions in BC.

The wineries of the Naramata Bench:

3 Mile Estate Winery Bench 1775 Black Widow Winery
Clean Slate Winery D’Angelo Winery Elephant Island Orchard Wines
Hillside Estate Winery Howling Bluff Estate Wines Joie Farm
Kettle Valley Winery La Frenz Lake Breeze Winery
Lang Vineyards Laughing Stock Vineyards Misconduct Wine Co.
Monster Vineyards Moraine Winery Perseus Winery
Poplar Grove Estate Winery Red Rooster Ruby Blues Winery
Serendipity Winery Terravista Vineyards Therapy Vineyards
Township 7 Vineyards and Winery Upper Bench Estate Winery Van Westen Vineyards
Vines at Moraine Estate Winery

Vines at Moraine Estate Winery

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Cabernet Sauvignon grows for Kettle Valley Winery within feet of the lake.

Part of the 180 degree view from the patio of Bench 1775.

Part of the 180 degree view from the patio of Bench 1775.

*Unfortunately, I was unable to produce a podcast featuring this region.