NARAMATA BENCH-A WEEKEND IN WINE COUNTRY
I am sure you guys all saw on my IG stories a couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend wine touring in Naramata. Naramata is a quick one hour drive from Kelowna and around a 4 hour drive from Vancouver, which makes it a perfect weekend getaway.
Our day started early in as we headed to the Naramata Bench, a short 1 hour drive. This region is known as a Sub-GI within the Okanagan Valley GI (Geographical Indication). The vineyards of Naramata Bench boast ideal conditions for full-flavoured white varietals, as well as earlier ripening, and elegant reds. We were so excited to visit this region as we have never been and have heard so many great things about the wine and the area. Nowhere else in the Okanagan Valley can you find so many wineries packed into a simple touring route, with breathtaking views and delicious dining options featuring local produce.
Wine BC recently launched the Explorer’s Pass Program which makes it so easy to create your own personal wine adventure in many of BC’s wine regions. There is no better way to experience and plan your weekend wine getaway.
HOW IT WORKS:
Each pass comes pre loaded with 30 redemptions to use in participating wineries
There are over 50 wineries across BC that offer complimentary tastings and exclusive offers
Participating wineries simply display their unique tasting location QR code. Explorers self-scan the code, display the scan confirmation, and receive their tasting.
It’s that easy, just SCAN and SIP, SWIRL, AND EXPLORE!!!!
During our weekend we visited seven participating wineries in the Naramata Bench wine region using the Explorer’s Pass. So let's get to the good stuff, the BC wine, all the wineries we visited were so beautiful and unique in their own way and I couldn’t image a better introduction to the Naramata Bench Wine Region.
Our first stop of the weekend was at the Great Estates Experience Centre in Penticton. Their portfolio includes Black Sage Vineyard, Inniskillin, Nk’Mip Cellars, Jackson-Triggs, Sunrock Vineyards, Dark Horse, Steller’s Jay, See Ya Later Ranch and Sumac Ridge. We were treated to a VIP tasting and professional curated wine and food pairing led by Guillaume Bidart.
I have to say that I have done a lot of wine tasting but this was the frst time that I learned the proper way to wine taste.
Swirl the wine in your glass
Smell the aromas
Tip the glass on a 45 degree angle to see the colour of the wine
Take the first sip and really let it fill every part of your mouth and tongue
Take a second sip and taste the full flavour
We did our wine tatsing a little different, we were given food that pairs well together with each wine as well as food that does not pair well to show us how different a wine can tatste. I was amazed to find out the difference it really makes. I can't believe the same wine can tatste that different when paired with a certain food.. Another thing I learned was the type of glass you are serving your wine in makes a difference too. We tasted the same wine out of 2 different types of glasses and it tasted totally different. This experience really gave me a lot of insight on winetatsing and food and wine pairings, a great way to start our wine tour and a must do in my opinion.
The Greaat Estates Experience Centre offers tastings daily and also offers the food and wine tasting that we expierience daily from 12:30-4:30. If you have a large party I would recommend booking ahead of time.
It was a full weekend of winery visits, here are the wineries we visited using the explorer pass and taking advantage of all the great benefits of this pass from Wine BC.
This winery is at the epicentre of the renowned Naramata Bench –breathtaking views, stunning vineyards and distinctive wines. The patio here has been described as “the best patio in the world.” and I can see why, the views are spectacular. You can bring your own food to enjoy in the picnic area. Now lets get to the wine, all the wine we tasted was very unique both in the names as well as the taste. My favourtites here were 2018 VVV as well as the 2018 Gateway Gew. Am I right about these unique names?
Singletree Winery in Naramata opened in 2018 and is named for the single-harness yoke commonly used in farming the 1800s. This winery showcases wines from the Naramata Bench, where the glacial soils and warm climate produce luscious red wines; and from the Fraser Valley, which provides a line-up of aromatic, crisp, and juicy wines that highlight this unique terroir.
We were treated to a Explorer Pass tasting with winemaker Andrew Etsell, and the wines did not disappoint. I fell in love with the traditional-method sparkling wines called Victory and Merryfield. Brought some home with me and cannot wait to open them for a special occasion.
When you visit this newly renovated winery, you can have the most therapeutic experience. Surrounded by panoramic views of the vineyards, Okanagan Lake, and Giant's Head Mountain, this is the perfect Therapy. We were treated to a explorer pass tasting, I have to say I loved some of the names of these wines staying within the whole Therapy theme, like Fizio (the bubbly we were greeted with). Their wines consists of fun and fruity blends, to single vineyard, single varietal classics that will wow your taste buds.
DA SILVA VINEYARDS AND WINERY
Crafting wines that directly reflect the terroir of each of their 11 vineyards. Whether its big bold reds you like or crisp whites you will definitely find one you love here. We loved hearing the story behind the bottle, each bottle of wine tells you exactly what varietals are used, where the grapes were picked to the exact vineyard, how they were made as well as how many cases were produced. This is something unique that I have not seen. My favourite here was the 2017 CHENIN BLANC MUSCAT.
We were treated to a incredible lunch at THE KITCHEN which is the restaurant at Da Silva Winery. The best way to describe the cuisine is Portuguese Tapas with a Mexican Flare. The best way to experience the unique and diverse cuisine is through “Chef’s Choice”, where Chef Abul Adame will bring out course after course of vegetarian, seafood, and meat tapas with surprises along the way. I am still dreaming of the food here, it was so good and really unique and all the dishes chosen by the chef were perfection.
Tightrope winery is a small family run vineyard, the owners Graham and Lyndsay O'Rourke use their education and experience to grow and make small batches of high-quality wine. We were treated to a explorer pass tasting with Lindsay O’Rourke herself, it was so great to hear the story behind her family winery and all the awards she has won for her wines including the her Award Winning Riesling, which was amazing!
HILLSIDE WINERY AND BISTRO
Our last day in wine country started off at Hillside Winery where we were treated to a Terroir tasting. We sat out on the patio and were treated to such a great experience of 5 wines paired with small food pairings with each. It was the perfect way to experience the wines here. Unique, small-lot, and terroir-driven are terms best used to describe the wine. They really focus on showcasing hand-crafted wine made exclusively from Naramata grown grapes. I fell in love with the Rosé here, I have to say I have tried so many and this was by far the best I have ever had. When I found out there were only a few bottles left I loaded up on a few to take home with me. If you were lucky enough to get a bottle this year you are lucky.
If you are looking for a a place to stop, relax and grab a bite to eat on your wine tour journey this is the place. The Bistro features a striking 65 seat dining area, lower outdoor patio and an upper open-air patio with breathtaking views of Okanagan Lake. Their newly imagined menu has been masterfully created with a focus on small plates allowing you to indulge in a fun sharing experience and a symphony of flavour. We decided to do the Tasting Menu which consisted of 6 different dishes to share with wine pairings. It was the perfect way to experience all the delicious cuisine and of course the amazing wine, including my fave, the Rosé.
Sad to say this was our last winery stop of the weekend. Roche Wines has deep roots in French traditions. Dedicated to natural, artisanal farming and winemaking, they strive to reveal the intimate relation of wine and terroir. Each of our wines is the expression of one place, one exceptional Okanagan terroir. It was great to hear to story of the family behind the winery. I encourage you to read the story of Penelope and Dylan Roche here. Our Exporer pass tasting included a wide variety of wine, here are just a couple of my favourites.
Our weekend was full of wine and amazing food but there was also relaxation. We stayed at THE THERAPY VINEYARDS INN while we were in Naramata and I was blown away at how relaxing it is to wake up in the middle of a winery. If you are looking for a romantic getaway this is the place. There are 5 suites and they have all been fully renovated, each room offers its own semi-private patio with stunning vineyard and lake views, full spa like ensuite bathroom, large flat screen
television, fireplace, wine fridge, and high-speed internet. There is no better way to end your day of wine tasting. Mornings here consist of stunning views, coffee (0f course) a gourmet breakfast consisting of yogurt, fruit and pasties. I wish you guys could feel the peace and tranquility here, it is so quiet and serene all you have to do is sit back and enjoy and plan your day ahead.
I started the summer with a amazing wine event - Chef Meets BC Grape Event and I couldn't think of a better way to end the summer with a incredible experience using the Explorer Pass from Wine BC wine touring the Naramata Bench.