RVwest Insider

Okanagan Valley pouring wine from two new distinct areas

View from a Naramata winery.
Wines from all four of the sub-appellations in the province can be labelled with a commitment to consumers that at least 95% of the grapes in the bottle come from that specific area. — Photo courtesy Becks/Flickr

When visiting their local liquor or British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance (BC VQA) wine store, consumers will soon be able to purchase bottles with Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench on the label.

“The Okanagan Valley has always been known as one of our province’s premier grape growing regions, and today, we are taking it a step further by celebrating and showcasing the talent of growers and wineries in Naramata and Skaha,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Most of our B.C. wineries are family owned and operated. They are incredible people, and I am excited to see the new opportunities and continued growth of the sector.”

There are now four sub-geographical indicators (sub-GIs), or sub-appellations, in the province. Wineries in Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench join Okanagan Falls and Golden Mile Bench, near Oliver, as wineries that meet the requirements of the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation. Wines from all four of the sub-appellations can be labelled with a commitment to consumers that at least 95% of the grapes in the bottle come from that specific area. 

Naramata Bench is roughly defined as the bench lands between Penticton Creek and Okanagan Mountain Park on the east side of Okanagan Lake. Skaha Bench covers a 10-kilometre stretch from the outskirts of Penticton and along the eastern shore of Skaha Lake. When wineries add area-specific labels to bottles, they help customers relate to the unique terroir in their specific area while increasing exposure to wine and agri-tourism.

From soil to shelf, more than 60 different grape varieties are produced in the province, including Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2017, B.C. wineries took home more than 2,000 medals in national and international competitions.

Quotes:

Miles Prodan, CEO and president, BC Wine Institute — “The Okanagan Valley, comprising 84% of all B.C.’s vineyards, is a diverse region. Recognition of sub-geographical indications within the Okanagan is the next phase in being able to identify and promote the varying climate and terroir in the different parts of the region. We are proud of the hard work done by industry and wineries coming together to define and certify these meaningful and scientifically unique grapegrowing areas and we look forward to seeing Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench on BC VQA wine bottles soon.”

Kathy Malone, winemaker, Hillside Winery, Naramata Bench — “Being the third region to receive sub-GI designation is especially exciting for the Naramata Bench as we have a long history of taking great pride in our terroir. I committed years ago to using only Naramata Bench grown fruit, and we at Hillside, together with our supplying vineyards and our winery neighbours along the Naramata Bench, are pleased that we can now state on the label clearly where the grapes are grown: Naramata Bench — the heart of the Okanagan Valley.”  

Evelyn Campbell, proprietor, Blasted Church Winery, Skaha Bench — “We are incredibly excited for the announcement of the Skaha Bench sub-GI. With this new designation, we will be able to push forward along with our neighbouring vineyards and wineries to tell the story of our unique terroir while continuing to produce wines that reflect our specific growing conditions. With just a quick glance at the wine label, consumers will be able to identify the wines, helping to provide an all-important sense of place to connect with, and what we’re achieving on the Skaha Bench.”

Quick Facts:

  • Wineries in Naramata Bench include Bella, Bench 1775, Black Widow, D'Angelo Estate, Daydreamer, Deep Roots, Elephant Island, Forgotten Hill, Foxtrot, Hillside, Howling Bluff, Joie Farm, Kettle Valley, La Frenz, Lake Breeze, Lang, Laughing Stock, Misconduct, Moraine, Monster, Origin, Perseus, Poplar Grove, Red Rooster, Roche, Ruby Blues, Serendipity, Singletree, Terravista, Therapy, Three Sisters, Tightrope, Township 7, Upper Bench and Van Westen.
  • Wineries in Skaha Bench include Blasted Church, Black Dog, Painted Rock, Pentage and Crescent Hill.

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