Quality Wine on the Okanagan’s Naramata Bench
The Naramata Bench in BC’s Okanagan Valley is roughly defined as the bench lands between Penticton Creek and Okanagan Mountain Park on the east side of Lake Okanagan. WIth more wineries per capita than any other wine region in BC, it’s an excellent touring route in the region with breathtaking views and delicious dining options.
Naramata Bench became a sub-geographical indication in 2019, meaning that its wineries meet the requirements of the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation. The area has an average of 1,350 Growing Degree Days, with long, frost-free periods due to the moderating influence of Lake Okanagan and the sloping aspect. The soil is primarily stone-free with distinct organic matter, such as rich topsoil formed in silt loam glacial lake sediments. Gravelly soils occur at higher elevations and on steeper slopes.
Strong stewardship of the land, commitment to craft and a collaborative culture are reflected in the grass, as well as the community that live along this winding country road with the charming Naramata village at road’s end. With over 50 wine and craft beverage producers as well as 50 varieties of grapes bottled in this area, there’s so much to explore and discover when it comes to these wines.
The region is most known for growing quality Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Merlot. You can experience the taste of Naramata yourself with the following wineries, whose wines we carry in-store.
Little Engine Wines
Known for their exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, Little Engine Winery is located shortly after the beginning of Naramata Road. The children’s fable of the Little Engine personifies will and determination; a winery dedicated to these same pursuits seemed befitting of the same title, and so became Little Engine Wines. Hand selected fruit combined with minimally-invasive wine making techniques allow for their wine’s pure expression. Their combination of natural yeasts, gentle maceration, French oak barrels and attention to every detail, results in wines of depth, character, elegance and finish.
JoieFarm Winery has been creating focused, award-winning wines on the Naramata Bench since 2004. JoieFarm wines are consistently expressive of the cool-climate, lake-moderated desert terroir of the Okanagan Valley. They are internationally renowned for their aromatic white wines, mouth-watering rosé, and world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Located just outside Naramata village, they are proud to make European-inspired wines for West coast living, working only with varietals that are suitable to their growing climate and which are compatible with West Coast cuisine.
Lake Breeze was named for the winds that blow across the bluffs in the Naramata Bench year round. They honour the sense of place, the land and pride in agriculture through careful and meticulous viticultural practices. The first vines on their property were planted in 1985, making them some of the oldest on the Naramata Bench. The mature vines, coupled with a predominantly westerly aspect ensure plenty of sun exposure and ideal ripening conditions. They endeavour to take the natural expression of the grape and transfer it to the bottle with minimal intervention. True to their name, their tasting room overlooks the beautiful Okanagan Lake, just a stone’s throw from JoieFarm.
Nichol Vineyard & Estate Winery
Located east of Naramata village further up the slope, Nichol Vineyard is among the first three pioneering wineries on the Naramata Bench. The first part of their home vineyard was planted in 1989 and completed in 1991, with all of their wines farmed and grown within 900 metres of the winery. They operate on a small scale and focus their attention and resources on the quality of their grapes and their subsequent élevage in the winery instead of on hefty advertising campaigns, with a name built on the quality of their wines not the size of their marketing budget. They are well known for their skin contact Pinot Gris, along with their Syrah and Pinot Noir.
Learn more about other Naramata Bench producers and plan your next visit at the Naramata Bench Wineries Association Website.