Visiting the Naramata Bench is like being transported to another world – you won’t believe it until you see it. It is called “the Bench” because the vineyards are perched on top of sandy cliffs overlooking the stunning Okanagan Lake. Not only are the views world-class, but the wine also competes on the international stage. Naramata is home to varietals such as Merlot, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. There are over 40 wineries within a 20 minute drive, so it’s easy to sample different varietals and wine making styles in a single afternoon. Slow down, say hi to the locals, and extend your stay if you can (you won’t regret it!)
Getting to Naramata
Naramata is in the Southern Okanagan Valley, located approximately 20 minutes from Penticton and 1 hour from Kelowna (which has an International airport). There are numerous places to stay in Penticton, and many tour companies offer pickups/drop-offs at local hotels and resorts. wineries in naramata
If you can, I would recommend staying right in Naramata so you can literally walk or bike to each tasting (Airbnb has some adorable little guest houses with stunning views!). For list of wine tour companies that offer half-day and full-day tours in the area, click here!
A note about COVID-19: While COVID-19 has created many challenges for the wineries and visitors alike, it has also been an opportunity to enjoy each winery in a quieter and more intimate way. Restrictions on the number of visitors means that MOST wineries require tasting reservations, along with a pre-paid tasting fee (usually waived with a bottle purchase). While this can result in more work up front to plan your day, it also means you get to savor each sip without being jostled by the drunk bachelorette party next to you (no judgment – I love a good booze cruise?).
Another bonus: We have had more than a few opportunities to have tastings with the winemaker! In addition to limiting the number of visitors and requiring a reservation, most wineries also get your info for contact tracing and have plexiglass set up at the bar. While the majority of wineries are open, many have reduced hours and some bistros/restaurants have remained closed. Visit this website to get a list of wineries and COVID related changes – they also have a list of the few wineries open for walk-ins!
The Top 5 Naramata Wineries:
This was our favorite winery of the day! We lucked out and had Shannon pour our tasting flight, which was incredible because as the wine makers assistant, she knew the wines inside and out. The reds were especially incredible, but honestly I loved them all.
Suggestions: Hourglass 2018 Reserve & Dry Gewurztraminer 2019
Serendipity Winery looks like something out of Under the Tuscan Sun, with a beautiful mix of stone and wood hidden among the vines. It is owned and run by the cutest mother/daughter team, and I swear I loved every single pour they gave me. Come for the wine, but stay for the food – there’s a stunning patio and bistro run by Chef Tristan Bunkowski, who has created a menu that pairs incredibly well with the wine (try the Carpaccio and Serenata!)
Tip: Make sure you book in advance – this spot is definitely a fan favourite!
Suggestions: Viognier 2019 & Serenata 2013 Reserve
Van Westin, Joie, and Deep Roots are all within less than a 5 minute walk of each other, making them easy stops for a walking or cycling tour. Every wine here starts with V – as in their exceptional Viognier and Bordeaux style blend ‘V’. This place is known for it`s exceptional age-worthy reds and friendly staff.
Suggestions: Viognier 2018 & V 2016
This winery was another one of our favorites. Known for their aromatic whites, this is the perfect stop if you are looking for a delicious summer patio wine. Their Noble Blend, En Famille Reserve Chardonnay, and Riesling were all incredible. The tastings were generous, the staff were friendly, and as always the view was spectacular.
Suggestions: A Nobel Blend 2018 & Rose 2019
Deep Roots Winery is a small family run winery, with an absolutely stunning view of the lake from their adorable patio. Their Parentage and Gamay are fantastic, and as someone who is not a huge fan of oak (gasp!) I particularly appreciated the tasty Chardonnay. It’s tucked away off the main road – but well worth a stop!
Suggestions: Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 & Parentage 2018
Other Noteworthy Recommendations: Lang Vineyards, Ruby Blues, Daydreamer Wines (next on my list!), Bench 1775, Lock & Worth Winery, Three Sisters Winery, and Bella Wines.