Naramata is home to more than 40 wineries, with loads of Merlot, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to taste. It’s beautiful here, like crazy-beautiful, and you just won’t fully believe it until you see it. This is the place that time forgot but in a really good way. Remember: slow your pace here and say hi to the locals. Naramata could be mistaken for something out of a storybook. Along the eastern shore of Lake Okanagan are towers of sand and silt that reach for the sky, forming the base of a tall benchmarked by deep gullies carved over time. Driving atop that bench on the twisty Naramata Road inspires one to slow down in the hopes of catching a glimpse of peek-a-boo orchards and vineyards from every possible angle. This place is different and that difference is palpable.
IN THIS GUIDE:
Bella Wines for a new world exploration into traditional method bubbles, with a focus on vineyard-specific Chardonnays and Gamays and all things naturally bubbled (weekends and by appointment).
Daydreamer Wines for beauty Syrah/Shiraz, Riesling, Chardonnay, and a sparkling Shiraz (yes, really).
Deep Roots Winery for Gamay (all day) and just about anything you can get your hands on because they’re a pretty small producer – long time growers, newer to the winemaking, and quite stellar at that.
Hillside Winery for vivacious Viognier, easy drinking Rosé, delightful Muscat (a fan favorite), and Cabernet Franc
Howling Bluff Estate Winery for the loveliest small lot Pinot Noirs, a pretty Rosé, and darn solid lineup of everything else.
JoieFarm for shining bright whites like their Noble Blend, En Famille Reserve Chardonnay and En Famille Reserve Riesling, or crazy good Pinot Noirs (yes, several) plus #GoGamayGo. Stay for Picnique and dine al fresco.
Lake Breeze Vineyards for classic Okanagan bright white wines like Ehrenfelser, Pinot Gris, and Roussanne – plus the McIntyre Heritage Reserve series.
Little Engine Wines for the some of the most seriously elegant Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of the region. Ante up and book a tasting on the patio with small bites.
Roche Wines for a taste of the Okanagan through the eyes of France in the “Tradition” series Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris or the magnificently elegant “Château” Grand Vin (Cab Franc / Cab Sauv / Merlot).
Terravista Vineyards for ridiculously good white wines that will brighten any day (or meal). Think Albariño and Verdejo in their beautiful blend Fandango, Roussanne and Marsanne in the Figaro, or soloists Viognier and Albariño.
Upper Bench Estate Winery & Creamery for outstanding Chardonnay, super tasty Riesling, and magnificent reds like their Yard Wine blend and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hillside Bistro at Hillside Winery for locally inspired exquisite plates in a relaxed setting.
The Restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery and soak up the majestic views of Lake Okanagan from high atop Munson Mountain (a now extinct former volcano) for lunch, dinner, or anything between.
The Oven at Upper Bench Estate Winery and Creamery, because (you guessed it) of the CHEESE that’s made on site by Shana and her team and is used in as many ways possible on wood-fired oven pizzas.
The Patio Restaurant at Lake Breeze for light bites, big views, and tasty sips.
Naramata Heritage Inn in the village, and sleep in a luxurious piece of living history.
The Village Motel in the village, because it’s absolutely adorable.
Naramata Courtyard Suites for everything from dining and wine tasting to beaches and orchards.
Camp at the Naramata Centre where you can simply set up base camp for the week or participate in the Centre’s programs.
Forgotten Hill Bed & Breakfast for stunning views and a fantastic spread every morning.
The Inn at Therapy Vineyards, true to its name, offers soaking tubs for the ultimate therapeutic relaxation.
Farm House at D’Angelo Vineyards provides a peaceful haven right next to acres of gorgeous vines.
There are several guided wine tasting tours of Okanagan Valley that are definitely worth experiencing:
TheWest Kelowna Classic Wine Tour includes four wineries, a picnic lunch, and expert guidance and transportation (which on its own is priceless).
The East Kelowna Classic Wine Tour with six winery visits, an expert guide and driver, and a full lunch.
Naramata is in the southern Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and accessible by major highways connecting to Route 97 (extending through Washington state). It’s an adventurous drive or quick flight from major centers like Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, and Calgary. International flights arrive in Kelowna and domestic flights can touch down directly in neighboring Penticton. You can check current flight deals with Kayak. If you travel by road, check provincial resources like DriveBC.com for traffic updates.
- From Seattle: 336mi
- From Spokane: 234mi
- From Vancouver: 267mi
- From Calgary: 425mi
Like most of the Okanagan Valley, Naramata is part of the Syilx Okanagan people’s unceded traditional territory. So in 2018 when the Naramata Parks & Recreation Commission took suggestions to name a new park beside the elementary school, there was also consultation with the Penticton Indian Band. This new name evolved into House of Bald Eagle or citxʷs paqəlqyn in the Nsyilicen language and now reflects not just one park but the entire community. When we explore Naramata, it’s on First Nations lands we travel.
The area was once called Nine Mile Point, then “East Summerland”, and eventually Brighton Beach before becoming Naramata. The area now known for grape growing and winemaking was settled in 1907 by John Moore Robinson when he bought 3,500 acres and began to plant orchards. Along with being patrons of the arts, Robinson and his wife were spiritualists and séance-holders. Rumour has it the name Naramata was interpreted by a medium to mean ‘smile of Manitou’. Folklore here has roots that run deeper than the oldest vines.
With no access by land, ferry boats originally connected Naramata to Summerland across Lake Okanagan. The journey was about 5km and could be made on the SS Sicamous, a sternwheeler now restored and permanently beached at the south end of the lake. A rough road came to the town in 1907 and the Kettle Valley Rail made its way to Naramata by 1915, although that would be decommissioned in the 1970s and turned into a popular hiking/biking trail. Naramata even had its moment in the Hollywood spotlight: in 1985, it was the backdrop for the award-winning film My American Cousin.
Farm life here began with orchards. Outside of the town proper, much of the acreage in and around Naramata is part of the British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve which limits land development in support of food security. Lang Vineyards was the first to grow grapes here in the 1980s and still has some of the oldest vines. As of May 13, 2019, the provincial government announced the Naramata Bench is the Okanagan Valley’s third sub-gi. This new sub-region consists of approximately 3,650 hectares and stretches from Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park on the north end to Penticton Creek in the south. Of that, 250 hectares are vineyards and includes more than 30 wineries that can officially use the term “Naramata Bench” on their bottles for wines made with 95% regional grapes.
The proximity of Lake Okanagan moderates extreme temperatures, and the natural slope provides cool air drainage and helps to lower the risk of frost in spring and fall. The “bench” reaches 660-690 meters (2,165-2,263 feet) above Lake Okanagan and was formed by glacial events, made of sand, silt, and clay that built up as melting ice waters receded. This land is old, like eons old.
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