Robert Bell's

Wines of Canada

Since 1992

Featured Winery

Kettle Valley

Tim Watts and Bob Ferguson
Tim Watts and Bob Ferguson


Not many wineries start out in an apartment building. But that is exactly where Kettle Valley Winery owners Tim Watts and Bob Ferguson began making wines. Realizing that great wines require the very best grapes they began looking for a place to grow them in 1984.

The partners came to winemaking in 1980 as amateurs. Bob Ferguson was born in Scotland in 1950, grew up in Canada and became a chartered accountant in Vancouver. Tim Watts, was born in Victoria and became a geologist. Bob credits Tim’s geological training for the fact that the partners planted vines on choice sites while avoiding Naramata Bench frost pockets.

They discovered a shared interest in winemaking after marrying sisters, and started buying Okanagan grapes. In 1985 Tim and his wife bought a home near Naramata and put in a test block of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, ignoring warnings that these varieties could not be ripened there. The grapes did ripen and, starting in 1989, the partners began acquiring vineyard acreage and phasing down their former careers. 

In 1987 they found there location in Naramata. They felt their grapes were going to thrive best with the soil combinations, late day sun and cooling breezes off the lake. They bought some property on a crooked road that the kids nick-named Rattlesnake Road, and planted their first blocks of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They were among the first to grow grapes in the Naramata. They were the third license granted on the Naramata Bench and the twenty-third in the entire province.

Kettle Valley Winery

The winery was named after the old Kettle Valley railway.


They started operations in a 3 car garage focusing more on the quality of the wine than expansion. Today own several vineyards on the bench equaling 20 acres. In his book British Columbia Wine country author John Schreiner states Kettle Valley makes some of the boldest and longest lived wines on Naramata Bench. Ferguson describes their wines as big, robust and full bodied.

 The winery opened to the public in 1996. Kettle Valley Winery is known for its dark, intense and well-structured red wines, including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and blends such as "Old Main Red". Chardonnay has been the main white wine produced, but in recent years Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc have also proved popular. They are all flavorful and aromatic, with a rich mouth feel. 

They also farm a 14-acre block in Cawston, planted to Zinfandel, Syrah and Viognier under the name Great Northern Vineyards.

The winery tasting room is a converted garage attached to a residence and is probably one of the most simple and understated places. If your looking for good wines rather than fancy architecture Kettle Valley is the place to go.

We have come to understand that for us, the quality, individuality and fully ripe flavours of the grapes are the factors that are most important to us in our wine making‚ and our wines.

To that end we have been constantly learning, experimenting and pushing the envelope. And in our minds at least, we have been getting better and better.

After 30 years, Kettle Valley remains a family operation. “We have always been reluctant to bring in people from the outside to be in charge,” Bob says. “We wanted to do it ourselves. That is the whole fun of being in this business.

2988 Hayman Road, Naramata, BC V0H 1N1

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