Wines of the Naramata Bench

The Naramata Bench is one of the premier grape growing regions in Canada. The bench runs from the city of Penticton along the east side of Lake Okanagan. On April 28th Barbara and I were among the first to sip and savour Naramata Bench’s Spring 2017 Wine Releases for media and trades at Vancouver’s Four Seasons Hotel. An evening event was held to benefit the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program.

Twenty-five of the Benches wineries were in attendance, many of the wineries were represented by owners and/or winemakers. Our first stop was at D'Angelo Winery where we were greeted by Sal D'Angelo's daughter Stephanie. This is a winery known for marvellous reds, I was most impressed by the Sette Coppa, a remarkable red blend.

Next stop with Serendipity and Judy Kingston, we chatted about the new tasting room opening in May and enjoyed tasting a number of very good wines. The winery has an outstanding cellar ranging from a lovely Pinot Grigio to an excellent 2012 Merlot and 2013 Pinot Noir

Right next to Serendipity's table was one of Naramata's newest wineries, Three Sisters. The sisters are Emily, Abby and Rebecca, winemaker is Matt Mikulic. Barbara was impressed with their Three Sister Bench Red series wine with an equal blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. From the Sister series we enjoyed the "Emily" A Cabernet Franc with 10% Merlot.

It was a pleasure to meet for the first time Deep Root's winemaker Will Hardman. Will's parents Bryan and Debra Hardman own the winery. The Hardman family has been growing apples in Naramata since 1919, new wine facilities were opened in 2013. The wines are quite impressive. The 2016 Chardonnay is excellent; I also recommend the 2014 Malbec and the amazing Riesling Muscat.

One the many interesting people we chatted with was Bob Tennant. of Terravista Vineyards. Bob and his wife Senka play a big part in the history of BC wines. Senka as winemaker and Bob as vineyard and business operator at their original business, Black Hills Estate Winery. Today I was most impressed with their 2015 Viognier.

The wines featured today displayed their new label.

 

Black Widow is one of the more established Naramata wineries under the guidance of Dick Lancaster. Barbara loved their 2016 Oasis VQ a very nice white blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Schonburger where tropical fruits abound. I also enjoyed the 2016 Gewürztraminer and 2016 Point Gris.

Another well established winery is Van Westen Family Vineyards under the guidance of Robert Van Westen. Robert's daughter assisted in the pouring of wine tastings. Vivacious 2015 will delight anyones taste buds on lazy warm summer days. The Viognier 2015, another amazing wine. The Dibello Pinot Noir 2015 was outstanding.

Time to try a fruit and on the Naramata Bench that means Elephant Island Orchard Winery and their Pear wine. Its been a very popular wine for years, it did not disappoint. The winery now produces grape wines. The "told you so" Viognier was quite good. Barbara and I always enjoy their fortified Framboise with its lively raspberry favours.

On to Richard Silva's the Misconduct Wines. Here I was impressed b the 2015 Misfit a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat. Quite the blend quite the wine!. Richard is quite serious about his winemaking and the Suspect series of wines is definite proof of that. You must try the Chardonnay!

I received a warm welcome and enjoyed a very long visit with the folks at Red Rooster Winery, including wnemaker Karen Gillis. They insisted I taste the Reserved Rose 2015. It is quite a good blend of 37% Syrah, 21% Malbec, 21% Mouvedre, 16% Grenache, 5% Petit Verdot. The chardonnay was also quite good!

Next was Tight Rope Winery owned by Lyndsay and Graham O'Rourke. Lyndsay makes the wines. They have an excellent cellar. I liked the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.

All of the grapes that go into their wines are grown on the Naramata Bench.

 

Due to the warm reception Barbara and I received from the wineries and other media attendees the 2 hours allotted for the event was quickly passing. This was the first of many wine tastings of the season for BC wines for us due to health issues we had some catching up to do.

Our last stop of the day was at the table one of BC's most noted wineries, La Frenz. The charming co-owner Niva Martin guided me through a tasting experience; we started with the 2016 Sauvignon Black Rattlesnake Vineyard.. A memorable wine with an exceptional aroma, made with grapes harvested over 3 ripeness levels. Winemaker Dominic McCosker talents are definitely displayed with this wine. The phenomenal wines continued from the 2014 Reserve Point Noir to the 2014 Merlot Rattlesnake Vineyard.

Regrettably as in all events there is never enough time to visit all the participating wineries. One thing we came away with is there are some really personable and talented people at wineries on the Naramata Bench producing a number of world class wines making Canada and BC proud.

The Naramata Bench

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