Canadian Wine Insider – November 2022

Canadian Wine Insider: A regional profile of the Naramata Bench

By Janet Dorozynski PhD, DipWSET

Last June I spent a week tasting the length and breadth of the Naramata Bench. While I have been to the area many times during frequent trips to the Okanagan, this was the first time I had a concentrated amount of time to get to grips with the region, varieties, people and wineries.

The sweet spot of the Okanagan

The gullied bluffs, undulating cliffs and hillside slopes of the Naramata Bench is home to more than 50 wineries along with a growing number of craft cideries, breweries and distilleries. It is located on the unceded, traditional territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) people, between 49.5° and 49.7° north in latitude, and stretches north from Penticton on the eastern side of Lake Okanagan.

There is also the tiny village of Naramata, which dates backs to the early 1900s and has always had a Dirty Dancing kind of feel to it. Until 1907, the village was only accessible by ferry from Summerland across the lake. Settlers of European decent first planted the Naramata Bench to orchards in the 1900s. Table grapes followed in the 1970s and from the 1980s, plantings of vitis vinifera started to pop up as well.

The village of Naramata has undergone a transformation over the past few years, creating more space and inviting attention on this wine-focused region. Cynthia and David Enns, former co-founders and co-owners of Laughing Stock and 1 Mill Road wines, along with local partners, transformed an old tree fruit cold storage into the Naramata Wine Vault, a facility for wineries to store raw materials and finished products. They also purchased the Naramata General Store with partners Mike Bernardo and Carole Morton, experienced restaurant professionals from Vancouver. They plan to up the game in terms of wine and food offerings. Bernardo, former Vij’s Restaurant sommelier, heads up the wine club with a focus on quality local wines and unique international offerings.

Quails' Gate Pinot Noir

Land, lake and vistas

The Naramata Bench has plenty of sunshine and daylight hours, with temperatures moderated by the proximity to Lake Okanagan. Grapes ripen quickly during the short growing season and many consider the area as the northern most limit where red Bordeaux varieties and syrah can thrive. According to data from Wine Growers British Columbia, Naramata Bench Wineries Association and the last B.C. Grape Growers Crop Survey in 2019, there are 52 licenced wineries with wines made from 50 grape varieties, with merlot, pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot noir accounting for over half of plantings. 

Many of the wineries are located on, or slightly north or south of, Naramata Road, with breathtaking lake, sloping vineyard and surrounding hillside vistas. The road is the high-level watermark of ancient Lake Penticton and divides vineyards into two soil composition types. Vineyards above the road are composed of granite, limestone, igneous rock, and volcanic sediment from Munson Mountain. While vineyards below the road have glacial lake bottom lacustrine silts. The range of sediments and numerous soil types are part of what allows the many grape varieties to thrive on the Naramata Bench.

The Naramata Bench has some of the highest land prices in the Okanagan. This is not a direct correlation to the economics of grape growing, but rather driven by the appeal of the vineyard country lifestyle. The romance of living among the vineyards has been a draw for winery owners and investors from

Vancouver, Calgary and further afield, which has resulted in Naramata being a solid real estate investment.

The Naramata Bench: Wine region or sub-appellation?

The Naramata Bench was not a delineated wine growing region until the establishment of the Naramata Bench sub-appellation — sub geographical indicator or sub-GI as referred to in British Columbia — in 2019. It is one of 11 of Okanagan Valley sub GIs, defined by geography, soils and microclimates, and established to identify the origin of the grapes used to make a wine. 

The creation of sub-GIs in British Columbia is a bottom-up process, with the region in question responsible for making the case as to its distinction from the greater appellation and what makes it unique. A formal submission to the British Columbia Wine Authority (BCWA) must pass a vote with the approval of a minimum of two-thirds of those in the sub-GI, both wineries and wine growers that represent a minimum of two-thirds of production of the sub-GI boundaries. Once passed, the BCWA submits the proposal to the B.C. Minister of Agriculture with final anointment by the B.C. Legislature as a sub-GI.

Discussions leading to the establishment of the Naramata Bench sub-GI were not without controversy. Opposition to the creation of the sub GI from some of the original winery members of the Naramata Bench Winery Association argued that the creation of a Naramata Bench sub GI would not have any positive influence on the region. Some, like Bob Ferguson of Kettle Valley Winery and Jeff Martin of La Frenz, circulated a letter of opposition to the creation of the sub-GI saying that while in the past Naramata was considered “a backwater on the wrong side of the lake between Kelowna and Oliver,” that was no longer the case. They argued that the association and wineries had done a good job creating an identify for Naramata Bench wines and the region was already firmly established in terms of its wines and wine tourism and that the creation of a sub-GI would result in unnecessary red tape and costs for wineries. After all was said and done, the Naramata Bench sub-GI vote passed with 81% of wineries and 80% of growers in favour.

The science of the Naramata Bench sub-GI

The Naramata Bench sub-GI covers the area along the east side of the Okanagan Valley from Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park in the north to Penticton Creek within the City of Penticton in the south. While the sub-GI encompasses an area of just under 3,650 hectares, there are currently only 250 hectares of vineyards planted.

The temperature moderating influence of Lake Okanagan Lake is an important climatic factor that results in longer frost-free periods on the Naramata Bench than in the south Okanagan regions of Oliver and Osoyoos. The annual mean temperature of lower elevation sites is around 9.5°C, with a growing season of around 195 days and more than 1400 growing degree days over 10°C, which places the Naramata Bench as one of the warmer regions in Canada.

According to the report prepared for the sub-GI application by Scott Smith and Dr. Pat Bowen of the Summerland Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, there are two different landscapes in the sub-GI. The glaciolacustrine landscape, primarily below Naramata Road, is characterized by the signature gullied, gently undulating bluffs of the Naramata Bench landform surface, shaped by events and deposits related to de-glaciation of the Okanagan Valley. They are comprised of silt particles and layers of sand and gravel that are susceptible to water erosion that leads to large gullies.

The mixed-deposits landscape, found primarily in vineyards above Naramata Road, are influenced by the underlying bedrock surface and highly variable surface deposits, which are often stony, gravelly glaciofluvial materials. At higher levels, the heavier sediment soils have outcrops of coarse-grained metamorphic rocks (gneiss) altered through geologic faulting.

There are ten surface soil types in the Naramata Bench sub-GI with varying degrees of sand, loam, clay and silt that in general provide good drainage and a favourable rooting zone for the vines. In addition to soils and landscapes, the dominantly west-facing slopes afford very good airflow, which has a positive influence on the number of frost-free days and length of the growing season. The undulating topography of gullies also act as pathways for cold air to drain to the valley floor and the combination of slope, topography and site positions create a range of mesoclimates within the sub-GI.  

It is this assortment of mesoclimates, coupled with careful site selection, that allows a considerable number of grape varieties to ripen and flourish on the Naramata Bench. The warmest sites lend themselves to later ripening red varieties, while cooler sites are well suited to earlier ripening red varieties and many white varieties. The cooler temperatures of late summer and fall enhance the development of fruit acids and aromatic compounds which according to the sub-GI report, “contribute to the sensory quality of the wines produced” while “conditions are also optimal for extending fruit hang time to further enhance flavour and tannins ripening and improve the body and aftertaste of red wines.”

Navigating the Naramata Bench

Wines labelled with the Naramata Bench sub-GI, like all B.C. VQA sub-GI wines, must contain 95 percent of grapes grown there. Then as now, there are wineries that grow and only use grapes from the sub-GI, while others make wines both from Naramata and Okanagan fruit. I tried to taste as many wines made only from Naramata Bench fruit and after five days tasting hundreds of wines it became obvious that some of the most-planted varieties make the most interesting wines.

A number of Naramata wineries take pinot gris very seriously and make dry, stylish wines. There is also very good chardonnay and pinot noir, along with some stand-out syrah, cabernet franc and lesser-planted white varieties such as semillon and riesling, along with Spanish and Rhone varieties. However, what surprised and impressed me the most was the merlot. Showing a cool climate sensibility, the merlots were not over-ripe, as can be the case with some south Okanagan merlot grown in hotter temperatures on sand. Nor were they over-extracted, instead showing a purity of fruit and refinement. Overall, the region is somewhat of an eclectic mix of wineries that are as diverse and colourful as the personalities that make the wines. These are their stories. 

Pioneers and early days

As a wine growing area, the Naramata Bench is relatively young in comparison to the rest of the Okanagan and Canada. Lang Vineyards and Hillside were the first two wineries to open in 1990, followed by Nichol Vineyards and Poplar Grove in 1993, Lake Breeze in 1995 and others soon after. La Frenz and Kettle Valley winery were also part of the original group of wineries. Captivated by the potential and beauty of the Naramata Bench, not all of the pioneer winery owners came from agricultural backgrounds nor the region itself.


Founders Vera Klokocka and her husband Bohumir planted the first vines at Hillside in 1984 on a former apricot orchard. Today, winemaker Kathy Malone still uses grapes from some of the original vines to make the Founders Block gamay noir and muscat ottonel, which are among Hillside’s best wines. Since 2012, Hillside makes all its wines exclusively from Naramata-grown grapes.

Hillside has one the few winery restaurants on the Bench. The Bistro at Hillside focuses on small plates made for sharing. Highlights of Chef Evan Robertson’s eclectic locally focused menu include pierogis with smoked char, mustard crème fraiche and Canadian salmon roe, and wild Pacific halibut with shellfish nage and a shrimp, caper artichoke relish — both were first-rate washed down with the 2021 Heritage pinot gris. The duck confit tacos with smoked onion verde, “kohl” slaw and apricot labneh were an exquisite companion to the Hillside 2019 syrah.

Hillside Heritage Pinot Gris 2021

Hillside Heritage Pinot Gris 2021, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley

Poplar Grove

Ian and Gitta Sutherland were the original co-founders of  Poplar Grove Winery. Their 1995 inaugural vintage by self-taught winemaker Ian put the winery and Naramata on the map for Bordeaux red varieties. The couple also founded Poplar Grove Cheese, the OG cheese monger on the Naramata Bench. It is now a stand-alone cheese purveyor that ships direct to consumer and offers onsite wine and cheese tastings paired with neighbouring Lock & Worth wines.

Ian Sutherland began a collaboration with Okanagan native and physician Tony Holler in 2007 and Holler has since taken ownership of the winery. The legacy of Bordeaux reds continues. The 2017 and 2018 Naramata Bench-grown Munson Mountain cabernet franc show bright red fruit, juicy acidity and balanced tannins, in sharp contrast to the gamey dark fruit and grippy tannins of the 2018 cabernet franc made from south Okanagan grapes. 

The Restaurant at Poplar Grove offers spectacular Lake Okanagan and hillside views and the cuisine of Chef Rob Ratcliffe is inspired and playful. Ratcliffe is originally from outside of London and formerly of Hawksworth in Vancouver. He combines global inspiration and local ingredients to create transformative dishes. The pâté de campagne with sauerkraut, green tomato relish and a smear of chicken schmaltz Béarnaise were reminiscent of classic Montreal bistro fare. The aromas and flavours of the seared albacore tuna with crispy rice and charred cabbage immediately transported me to the streets of “Central” in Hong Kong. Both were delicious with the winery’s 2021 Naramata Bench Hudson Vineyard Rosé.


Nichol proprietor Ross Hackworth left Naramata to work in the forest industry in 1987 when most of the area  was still orchard. He returned in 2005 and acquired Nichol when there were less than a dozen wineries operating. Hackworth started by making beer, then turned to wine and mused when I met him that the industry has grown and transformed dramatically, with many winery owners “helicoptering in with lots of money” to fund some impressive projects.

Nichol Old Vines Syrah
Nichol Old Vines Syrah

Nichol is one of the original Bench wineries and prior to Hackworth’s arrival was making 900 cases of wine from 12 grape varieties, to mixed reviews. The first thing Hackworth did when he bought the winery was grub up and replant many of the under-performing varieties. He replaced them with a

focused portfolio of varieties that Nichol does well and has become known for – pinot gris, cabernet franc, syrah and pinot noir. Nichol has the oldest plantings of syrah in Canada, dating back to 1990, along with cabernet franc planted in 1989. It was fascinating to walk through some of Canada’s and British Columbia’s viticultural history with Matt Sherlock, GM and fountain of knowledge of all things Naramata. Sherlock is also partner with Hackworth in their other winery venture, Lock & Worth, whose tasty merlot and semillon has found success at home but also can be found at the Norwegian state liquor monopoly Vinmonopolet.  

Nichol Old Vines Syrah 2020

Nichol Old Vines Syrah 2020, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley

Lake Breeze

The winery at Lake Breeze dates back to 1995 and receives many wine tourists for its wines and restaurant. The pinot blanc and pinot gris are benchmark styles for the region that often earn medals at local and national competitions. Some of the vineyards date back to 1985. Lake Breeze was the first winery in Canada to plant and make pinotage, thanks to original South African owner Paul Moser and now president and long-standing head winemaker Garron Elmes, also from South Africa.

The al fresco Patio at Lake Breeze restaurant was the first winery restaurant on the Bench and offers an idyllic outdoor patio setting with a seasonal, locally focused menu. Sunchokes and peas were in season when I lunched, with both locally sourced ingredients shining in the two starters of sunchoke panna cotta and pea-and-onion tart. The main was a delicious capellini with spring green vegetables and prawns that paired remarkably well with both the suggested savoury and fruity 2019 Mistral Syrah and the 2020 Spice Jar, an off-dry aromatic white blend from gewurztraminer, schonburger, muscat and viognier.

New century, new wineries

The 21th century saw considerable winery expansion on the Naramata Bench, many with quirky or concept names like Laughing Stock, Therapy Vineyards and Black Widow.  

Elephant Island Winery

Elephant Island winery opened in 2001 though the orchards have been in co-owner Miranda Halliday’s family for decades. The family affair continues with Miranda’s mother and aunt still working at the winery and tending the orchards while spouse Del Halliday is in charge of fruit and grape wine and cider production. The blackberry and black current wines are very good and the Current Event (apple black currant cider) is delicious. Make sure to check out the Wild Blue Yonder blueberry cider and the Barrel and Botanicals ciders that are made by co-fermenting cider and local botanicals from neighbouring Legends Distilling.


The ungrafted pinot noir vineyards of boutique winery Foxtrot were planted in the mid-1990s though the winery did not open until 2004. The founding Allander family was driven to produce age-worthy “Burgundian” pinot noir and chardonnay and the vision continues under new ownership. The 2019 Raisin d’Etre and estate pinot noirs, while relatively pricey, show focus and complexity that are true to the winery legacy.

Foxtrot Raison D'etre Pinot Noir 2019

Foxtrot Raison D’etre Pinot Noir 2019, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley

Terra Vista

Celebrated winemaker Senka Tennant and her husband, Bob, co-founded Terra Vista Vineyards in 2008. Dallas and Eric Thor now own the winery, with Nadine Kinvig in charge of winemaking. Terra Vista has concentrated on Spanish and southern Rhone white varieties from the beginning with their Fandango (albarinho/verdejo blend) and Figaro (roussane, marsanne, viognier blend) consistently taking top honours at the National Wine Awards of Canada. Terra Vista is the first winery in Canada to plant the Spanish red variety mencía, which, if it is anything like their whites, is something I cannot wait to taste.

Terravista Fandango 2021

Terravista Fandango 2021, British Columbia

Upper Bench Winery 2011

The original vineyards of Upper Bench Winery were planted  between 1998 and 2001 to Bordeaux red varieties, chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling and zweigelt — though the winery is best known for merlot and cabernet sauvignon that straddle the divide between concentrated ripeness and classic elegance. Gavin Miller is the winemaker and one of four co-owners, who immigrated to Canada in 1997. After a career as a graphics design sales manager, he studied viticulture and accumulated winemaking experience in several Okanagan wineries before coming to Upper Bench in 2012, the year after it opened in 2011.

Upper Bench Estate Grown Chardonnay 2019

Upper Bench Estate Grown Chardonnay 2019, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley

The Upper Bench Creamery also opened in 2011 with Shana Miller in charge of all things dairy at this state-of-the-art creamery. A Nova Scotian who arrived in the Okanagan in 1995, Shauna learned her craft at Poplar Grove Cheese. Upper Bench Creamery makes natural and washed-rind, bloomy and lactic, and blue cheeses from cows milk. The washed-rind Okanagan Sun is creamy and intensely flavourful while the Pepper Puck unripened cheese is perfect for grating to add zest to an arugula tomato salad.

Upper Bench Cheese
Upper Bench Cheese


Partners in life and the winery, Lyndsay and Graham O’Rourke began planting the vineyards for Tightrope in 2007 and opened the winery in 2012. They both studied winemaking at Lincoln University in New Zealand. The winery has a number of different vineyard sites and aspects that Lyndsay believes are perfect for ripening cool climate varieties and retaining freshness and acidity in the grapes. Tightrope produces small lots of finessed viognier and pinot gris, along with poised, cool-climate syrah and merlot, and a charming off-dry white blend called Tip Toe that is quintessentially Naramata summer in a glass.

Tightrope Syrah 2019

Tightrope Syrah 2019, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley


Moraine Winery takes its name from the glaciated white clay buffs that dominate the Naramata Bench landscape. Co-owners Oleg and Svetlana Aristarkhov are originally from Russia, via Calgary — they shifted gears from the oil-and-gas industry to vineyard and winery owners. Amber Pratt is in charge of winemaking and the winery is known for its riesling and pinot noir. The 2020 chardonnay and cabernet franc took silver at the 2022 National Wine Awards of Canada and Moraine was named one of Canada’s top ten small wineries and top 25 wineries in Canada at the National Wine Awards of Canada 2021.

Moraine Cabernet Franc 2020

Moraine Cabernet Franc 2020, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley


Winery and vineyard expansion continues to this day, with owners and expertise coming from within and outside the wine industry.

Bella Wines

Tucked into the northern reaches of the Naramata Bench, Bella Wines takes a natural, low-intervention approach to grape growing and winemaking and exclusively makes sparkling wines from chardonnay and gamay. They use fruit from their Naramata vineyard and other parts of the Okanagan to make traditional and ancestral methods of fizz. They also  have a coterie of farmyard animals that are integral to the life of the vineyards and winery. I have known co-owner Jay Drysdale since he was a sommelier decades ago and have followed this labour-of-love project with interest. Production is small — do try to get your hands on one or both of the Mariani Vineyard Clone 509 or 787 gamay ancestrale sparkling rosé.

Bella Vineyards
Bella Vineyards

Wesbert Winery

The Joubert family packed up their life in South Africa to settle on the Bench and opened Wesbert Winery in 2019. If there’s any silver lining in the Covid pandemic, says winemaker Pieter Coetzer, it’s the word of mouth by locals talking about our winery, that produces a surprising number of varieties and wines styles. The first vintage of the Wesbert 2019 merlot took silver at the National Wine Awards of Canada 2021. In addition to the welcoming tasting room with pizza oven and South African hospitality, Wesbert has three well-appointed rental suites overlooking one of their vineyards.

Wesbert Merlot 2019

Wesbert Merlot 2019, British Columbia

Three Sisters

Three Sisters is the namesake winery of sisters Emily, Abby and Rebecca Lawrence, the latter running the winery with spouse and winemaker Matt Mikulic, who also makes wine in Croatia. They make impressive cabernet franc, juicy, crunchy gamay and a “Cane Cut” riesling, which refers to the process of cutting the vine canes and leaving the grapes to dry naturally, a technique Mikulic picked up in Australia. The result is an attractive medium-sweet wine with bright acidity and loads of orange blossom and peel flavours.

Three Sisters Cabernet Franc 2020

Three Sisters Cabernet Franc 2020, Okanagan Valley

Roche Wines

Pénélope Roche hails from a winemaking family in Bordeaux that previously owned Château des Carmes Haut-Brion (right next to Haut-Brion), and whose great grandfather refused to be part of the 1855 Classification. She has made wine in Bordeaux, Spain, Australia and New Zealand and met Dylan Roche, her partner in life, in Burgundy when he was working as a bike mechanic for elite tour company Butterfield & Robinson. Pénélope’s family sold the Bordeaux Chateau in 2010 and the Roches arrived in the Okanagan the following year.

Roche Wines Chateau 2018

Roche Wines Chateau 2018, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley

Roche Wines opened in 2017 and focuses on making dry wines with an Old World sensibility. Their estate vineyard has plantings of ungrafted schonburger and zweigelt on the lower slopes of Munson Mountain and they make a complex pinot noir, a red Bordeaux blend called Chateau and elegant, dry and aromatic pinot gris. It was a treat to taste the 2019 and 2014 Tradition pinot gris together, both of which show the finesse and the age-worthiness of the variety.

Four Shadows

Four Shadows owners Joka and Wilbert Borren come from Holland and were pig farmers in Alberta before moving to Naramata where they became grape growers in 2011. They “didn’t feel part of the industry just growing grapes” so they started making wine with a consultant in 2017 and opened the winery in 2019. Named after their four sons, Four Shadows makes several exciting rieslings, an excellent juicy zweigelt and two well-structured merlots.

Four Shadows Merlot 2019

Four Shadows Merlot 2019, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley

Four Shadows

Little Engine

The sleek and modern Little Engine winery makes equally sleek wines. Opened in 2016 by Calgarians Steve and Nicole French, Little Engine has seven different vineyards throughout the Naramata Bench to draw upon for their Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers of wine. Winemaker Scott Robinson trained and worked in Australia and New Zealand and makes polished wines from chardonnay, pinot noir and merlot along with Bordeaux white and red blends.


Marcus and Rachel Ansems started Daydreamer Wines in 2016 after working in the wine industry in Ontario and many other global regions. Rachel is Canadian while Marcus comes from Australia — he is a second-generation winemaker and Master of Wine. The winery has not used chemical sprays since 2013 and 95 percent of their wines are naturally fermented. Daydreamer concentrates on small-batch, low-intervention winemaking. Cuddly Baby Doll sheep roam and help tend the vineyards. The compact portfolio consists of textured whites — pinot gris, riesling and viognier — from Naramata vineyards and classy reds made from south Okanagan grapes. Try the Jasper Bordeaux blend and syrah.

You have to go to taste

The region has recently undergone a rebrand with a new elaborate website and ambitious plans to become better known nationally and internationally. The Naramata Bench Wineries Association enlisted Siobhan Turner, a Canadian Master of Wine living in the U.K., to select 12 wines out of 70 submissions to represent the Best of the Bench — these will be sent to local and international media. It was good to see that many of the wines Turner selected were also long-time favourites of B.C. and Canadian trade and media, since it can be a bit risky to have one person parachute in to select a region’s top wines (and only from the wines and wineries who submitted samples). Perhaps more challenging will be to create wider national and international recognition, when most Naramata Bench wines are largely unavailable outside the province, to say nothing of outside of Canada.

Since many Naramata wines are inaccessible outside of British Columbia or Alberta, or winery cellar door, the best way to taste and explore is to visit the region. The Naramata Bench has the largest number of wineries located in one single area of the Okanagan Valley and is compact and easy to navigate. Many of the wineries are located on, or slightly north or south of, Naramata Road, with breathtaking vistas of the lake, sloping vineyards and surrounding hillsides to accompany your sensory discovery of the wines.

Sommelier Profile

Emily Walker: Small inn sommelier with a big vision

Emily Walker, a Kelowna native, took on the role of director of wine at the more than century old Naramata Inn, after extensive renovations when the inn reopened in June 2020. Walker has worked in restaurants from a young age and — while she describes herself as “more of a musician, artist and flighty type” — she has formal wine training with the International Sommelier Guild and Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She ran wine programs at several top Vancouver hotels.

Emily Walker - Naramata Inn
Emily Walker – Naramata Inn

Chef Ned Bell, one of four co-owners, describes the Naramata Inn as a “restaurant with rooms” that offers wine-country fine dining. Walker’s wine-list philosophy aligns with Bell’s hyper-local cuisine and dishes that range from light and bright to rich and luxurious. I was treated to a top-notch dinner which included  Tanto Latte burrata from Salmon Arm, wild Pacific halibut with morels, and a 63 Acres “Butchers Cut” beef with Béarnaise sauce and garlic scape vinaigrette, paired by Walker with the 2018 Coolshanagh chardonnay from the Naramata Bench and the 2018 Echo Bay cabernet franc from neighbouring Okanagan Falls.

Naramata Inn
Naramata Inn

Walker’s wine list features gems from Naramata and the Okanagan, with a nod to the region’s pioneers. It is a mix of by-the-glass offerings, 750 ml bottles, and magnums and larger formats — and it all gets shuffled every eight weeks. On her list, Walker lists the variety before the winery name “because this is how most people look for wines for their meals

About 10 percent of her list is international, as she believes it is important to feature benchmark international producers, varieties and styles “as it shows confidence in B.C. wines and because we take inspiration from these international regions.”

Walker believes the British Columbia wine industry has come a long way and there is greater knowledge and respect by wine consumers for B.C. wines now. Looking ahead, she would like to see sub-GIs (regional sub-appellations) that “stand for something” and she thinks syrah and merlot are better suited to the Naramata Bench than pinot noir. Walker is uncertain how climate change will affect the region and worries about the string of low-yielding vintages. She would also like to see the industry focus on sustainability and responsible farming and less on the variety itself. Walker, has clearly found her stride at the Naramata Inn and points to a future that includes exciting blends of grape and fruit wines like those coming from Naramata’s Creek & Gully and Anthony Buchanan in nearby Kaleden.