# of wineries: 50+
Don't miss: Bella, Blackwidow, Chain Reaction, Tightrope
Common varietals: Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot
Wine region: Okanagan Valley
Sub-region: Naramata Bench
The Naramata Bench is an iconic sub-region (sub-GI) of the Okanagan Valley. It is jam-packed with amazing little boutique wineries making it super easy to taste a whole bunch of wines in a single afternoon. The views of rolling vineyards along the edges of an expansive deep blue lake are also pretty incredible!
With over 600 acres of vineyards and well over 50 wineries, you are bound to find something that you love every time. I have been visiting for years and there are still some wineries that I need to check off my list!
Naramata Bench has been recognized as having such a unique terroir that it is now considered its own sub-GI of the Okanagan Valley. This means that you can see Naramata Bench listed as the appellation on a bottle of wine!
The Naramata Bench is situated on the east side of the Okanagan Lake, opposite of Summerland. Being along cliffs on the east side of the valley, these wineries get the afternoon and evening sun. This gives the vines longer sunlight exposure which helps to ripen the grapes more than on the opposite side of the lake in Summerland.
The vineyards also get a cooling breeze that comes off of the Okanagan Lake which does a few different things:
Naramata can grow some earlier ripening grapes but it also provides a great location for later ripening grapes, thanks to the extra sun exposure. With this in mind, the Bench is perfect for growing all sorts of white varietals like Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, as well as red varietals like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah and even Malbec!
There are a lot of reasons why so many wineries call Naramata home!
P.S. if you don't know the bold italicized words, there are definitions at the bottom of the page to make it easier!
I know that it is so tempting to pack the day as full as possible but I recommend 4-5 wineries per day, max! Wineries typically open around 11am and close around 5pm so this leaves you time for a nice lunch or charcuterie somewhere along the way which I HIGHLY recommend. Your palate and wallet might get a bit tired, but you will get to experience a lot!
Since Naramata is so full of great wineries, I suggest spending two days wine tasting. Below I have suggested wine routes for both days as well as given a short description of other wineries that I love on the Bench!
MY FAVES: Day 1
Bella Winery - Sitting near the furthest end of Naramata Bench, Bella is a family-run sparkling wine house that offers natural Traditional Method and Ancestral Method sparkling wines. The care put into their wines and land is remarkable and the wines themselves are a true delight.
JoieFarm Winery - A stunning winery with an impeccable vibe and portfolio of really great aromatic white wines sprinkled with a few lighter reds. Be careful, you could end up spending the entire afternoon here! Only a 5 min drive from Bella.
Bench 1775 Winery - One of the best views on the Naramata Bench, I always enjoy the easy drinking wines that Bench 1775 produces. Their Malbec Nouveau is particularly fun! Only a 5 min drive from JoieFarm.
Blackwidow Winery - Don't be spooked by the name like me, they have quickly become one of my must-stops! Every single wine is exactly what I look for in a wine. It's like they have created their entire portfolio just for me! All of their wines are grown exclusively on the Naramata Bench so you get a great taste of Naramata terroir! Only a 6 min drive from Bench 1775.
MY FAVES: Day 2
Tightrope Winery - Another family-run winery, Tightrope was the first certified winery of Sustainable Wine Growing BC. This means that they are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable which is such an incredible accomplishment. As a bonus their wines are absolutely fantastic!
Laughing Stock Vineyards - A stock market flair can be found in their tasting room, labels and more paying homage to their original owner's roots in the financial industry. l found their wines to be really high quality and particularly loved their Syrah, Viognier and Chardonnay during my visit in 2022. Only a 1 min drive from Tightrope.
Chain Reaction Winery - New to the Bench in 2022, this winery blew my mind. An incredibly small operation boasting a stunning view of vineyards and the Okanagan Lake and already producing phenomenal wines. Only a 2 min drive from Laughing Stock.
Roche Wines - This little family-run winery cares for their vineyards organically and makes some absolutely superb french-style wines. Only a 3 min drive from Chain Reaction.
If you have time:
Therapy Vineyards - A super fun winery with witty wine names. They have the best staff and their Merlot is always a fave of mine. Only a 3 min drive from JoieFarm.
Daydreamer Wines - A super small, family-run, organic-focused winery. Their wines aren't the cheapest with a lot being around the $40 mark, but I almost guarantee that you will find one that you love. Come for the wine but stay for the sheep that are wandering around like dogs wanting chin scratches! Only a 4 min drive from JoieFarm
1 Mill Road - making wine only from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Naramata Wine Vault in downtown Naramata, 1 Mill Road is next level good. While they don't have a regular tasting room, keep an eye out for their wines pouring at restaurants around the Okanagan, Vancouver and Vancouver Island because if 1 Mill Road is on a wine list, you NEED to try them!
Da Silva Vineyards & Winery - Some of their wines and their onsite restaurant give a nod to their family's Portuguese heritage. They also produce a Fumé Blanc which is not very common but super good! Only a 1 min drive from Roche.
Lake Breeze Vineyards - Another outstanding view offering tasty aromatic wines. As a bonus, their onsite restaurant smelled incredible during my last visit to the winery! Only a 3 min drive from JoieFarm
Hillside Winery - All of their wines are exclusively grown in Naramata! As a recurring theme, their onsite restaurant looks amazing. Only a 1 min drive from Laughing Stock
Poplar Grove Winery - One of the first 5 wineries on Naramata Bench, their Pinot Gris and Cabernet Franc are always top notch. Their facilities are stunning and I can attest that their onsite restaurant is fantastic. Only a 3 min drive from Roche
Moraine Estate Winery - Family-owned, enjoy their wines from their patio overlooking the lake and vineyards, or down amongst the vines in the picnic area. Their malbec really stood out for me. Only a 1 min drive from Bench 1775
Ruby Blues Winery - This funky winery actually plays rock music to their vines, how fun! It seems to work because their aromatic whites are a delight. Only a 2 min drive from Laughing Stock
Deep Roots Winery - I visited a very long time ago so I don't remember much about the winery except that they had a kick-ass Gamay and a friendly dog in the tasting room so I was a fan! Only a 1 minute drive from JoieFarm
Serendipity Winery - really good, high quality wines coming from this family-run winery. Their onsite restaurant is also fantastic! Only 5 min from Bella.
To be honest... the not-so-great winery reviews
Lang Vineyards - As the oldest winery on the Bench, I really wanted to enjoy this iconic winery. However, when having a tasting in 2022 they did not speak directly to me and instead they turned most of their attention to the other older couples in the tasting room even though I was asking questions. Regrettably, as a younger woman interested in wine I see this happen a lot, especially when I first got into wine, but it was unfortunate to experience again. I enjoyed a few of the wines but the overall experience was less than optimal.
La Frenz Winery - As another iconic spot on the Bench, I was looking forward to a tasting however I was left a little underwhelmed. Their view is incredible—it was actually on the $100 bill at one point because Queen Elizabeth II visited and loved it! However none of the wines really stood out to me and the service was lack-lustre. I will definitely give them another shot because nothing was necessarily bad, but after visiting so many wineries that provided both stellar wine and a fantastic experience, La Frenz just wasn't my fave.
Origin Wines - while they have some of the best views in Naramata and an incredible outdoor space, I did not enjoy any of the wines here when I visited in 2021. They did have wonderful customer service and provided a great atmosphere so I will return one day for another shot.
Please note, believe it or not, there are even more wineries in Naramata that I haven't yet had the chance to visit. But if you have never been, this is a good starting point!
When visiting Naramata Bench you can conveniently stay in the adorable little town of Naramata or you can splurge a bit and stay in one of many guesthouses tucked into the vineyards which would be a dream come true. Alternatively, there are plenty of accommodations to choose from in Penticton which is only minutes away.
Sandy Beach Lodge & Resort: This cozy accommodation is the perfect spot to make your home base while exploring the incredible Naramata Bench. Right on the lake in the quaint town of Naramata, you are only a few minutes away from wineries by car or e-bike! With log cabin vibes, the feels like summer camp with docks, canoes and games like bocce, ping pong and tennis as well as an outdoor pool and hot tub. There is no shortage of things to do when staying at Sandy Beach! I LOVED staying here.
Naramata Courtyard Suites: This adorable little motel has a real Palm Springs vibe to it. The rooms all have their own little outdoor space with trendy chairs in the courtyard dotted with lavender and desert grasses. A great place for a glass of wine at the end of the day. The rooms also have kitchenettes which is a huge bonus! With a one minute walk you have your choice of café for a morning coffee and in 5 minutes you will be at a beach on Okanagan Lake! I really enjoyed my stay here.
Wine Down Cottage: This townhome in downtown Penticton is only 10 minutes from Naramata and it is very walkable to many local coffee shops and restaurants. Fully equipped and roomy, this easily sleeps 6 and it the perfect central location for a weekend of wine tasting.
Please don't stay at the 5000 Motel in Penticton. In 2021 I made the mistake of booking here because I planned a trip last minute, accommodations were slim and I was being kind of frugal. MISTAKE. I wont go into details but I have stayed in a lot of seedy places while backpacking South East Asia and South America and nothing compares.
While wine tasting is entertainment enough, sometimes it's nice to add a little something else to the itinerary.
Penticton E-Kruise: the most fun way to get around the wineries! Super easy to use, these e-bikes get you up all those rolling hills in a jiffy. With bags to hold your wine, and a phone holder to help you navigate the terrain, e-biking to wineries was a blast and I cannot wait to do it again! Pick up is available at the beginning of the Naramata Bench near Hillside Winery and at the Naramata Inn.
GI: Geographical Indication; a specific wine region in BC which can be indicated on wine labels. BC has nine GIs as well as sub-GIs.
Sub-GI: Sub-geographical Indication; a sub-region or a much smaller area within a larger GI where it is recognized that the terroir enables the area to produce distinct wines. You can also see this listed on a wine label.
Terroir: all of the environmental things that can affect the taste of grapes. These are things that make the vineyard or area unique such as the soil, climate, altitude, proximity to mountains or lakes etc. Basically, the unique parts of a vineyard can create distinct wines!
Traditional Method: sparkling wines made in the same way that Champagne is made. It just can't be called Champagne is if isn't produced in Champagne, France.
Ancestral Method: the oldest way of making sparkling wine! AM is sparking wine that is made by bottling the wine part way through its fermentation process. The wine keeps fermenting inside the bottle creating bubbles that are trapped inside. Also known as pétillant naturel, or Pet-Nat, which you can learn more about here!
- That BC Wine Girl