Naramata bench, British Columbia
Arguably one of the most well known wine regions in British Columbia, the Naramata Bench runs from the north eastern portion of the city of Penticton (“the Bench Roads”: Lower, Middle and Upper Bench) up along Naramata Road to the northern side of Naramata Village. According to the BC Wine Institute there are currently 898 acres planted with vines on this strip that includes thirty six (36!) wineries along a 15km route. Funnily enough, Bella Wines is currently the last tasting room on the Bench; or the first, depending on how you want to start your day.
KING FAMILY FARMS
Starting with the 2017 vintage, we have been honored to work with King Family Farms and benefit from their deep heritage on the Naramata Bench. Currently under the stewardship of Rod King, his brother Don King and his son Ian King, this is the fourth generation to farm on this site.
Rod’s father was the first male born in Naramata in 1909 … in a tent. Rod’s grandfather bought here in 1929 and Rod’s father acquired the property where our Chardonnay comes from in 1939. It was all tree fruits until the late ’80s when Don and his brother decided to plant grapes in 1992 – the Chardonnay on rootstock SO-4, clone 76. This block is trained in a “double divided” also known as a “double Scott Henry” – this style being developed in New Zealand for higher vigor sites. Just on the northern side of Munson Mountain in Penticton, the soil at this site is deep silt loam. We fully support Rod’s approach to vineyard management: the best equipment in the vineyard are their boots and eyes and forget the calendar – read and look at what the vines are telling you. Having grown up farming this site, Rod and his family have an intimate knowledge of what it can produce and have chosen a minimalist conventional farming approach.
ORCHARD HOUSE VINEYARD
Wanting a contrast to grapes grown in Naramata Village, Bella Wines sourced both Chardonnay and Gamay Noir grapes from a small acreage producer located at the southern base of Munson Mountain. Munson Mountain is actually the remains of an extinct volcano which helps explain the volcanic rock, primarily dacite (felsic) in composition, that is found along with fine-textured glacial lacustrine sediments throughout Orchard House vineyards. In addition to the soil composition, this site at the southern end of the Naramata Bench has distinctly different weather than Naramata Village – in particular, more precipitation. We were beyond charmed to work with Liz and Frank Malinka, then owners of Orchard House Vineyards, for the 2015 through to 2018 vintages to bring a spectacular small lot sparkling wine product to market.