Naramata Bench Sub-GI

We are thrilled for the new Sub-Geographical designation for the Naramata Bench announced this week by the BC Ministry of Agriculture.

What does this mean? The Sub-GI designation represents increasing alignment of the BC wine industry with world wine standards, and creates a clear sense-of-place for the consumer. This is similar for example to the Sub-AVA designations in Napa Valley, which has 16 (i.e. Los Carneros, Rutherford, Stags Leap District, etc…). The Naramata Bench is the third region in BC to receive Sub-GI designation, following Golden Mile Bench, in 2015, Okanagan Falls last year, and joining Skaha Bluffs today.

To use the Sub-GI on the label, each wine must be submitted to a VQA taste panel along with a declaration of origin of the fruit and lab analysis, and may be subject to an audit by the BCWA at any time. Wines that achieve VQA status and are made from 100% Naramata-grown grapes now may proudly display the phrase: “BC VQA – Okanagan Valley – Naramata Bench”.

Aptly described by the New York Times as “a gloriously scenic highland that is crowded with smaller wineries,” the Naramata Bench is located just north of Penticton. Our property is situated at the start of the Bench, above sweeping sand cliffs that rise from the eastern side of Okanagan Lake, with vineyards that gently slope up to the mountains behind. Our region boasts ideal conditions for grape ripening, the sloping vineyards are located in close proximity to the lake and have excellent exposure to the afternoon sun, with long warm sunny days in summer and a moderating “lake effect” in winter, which results in a nice long growing season. The rolling hills, unique soil types and microclimates enable numerous different varietals to really thrive here.

With its moderate temperatures, abundant sunshine and cooling breezes, the Naramata Bench is ideal for growing premium vinifera grapes. We have proudly been growing grapes on our seven acre Naramata Bench estate since 2004 of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris, along with small plantings of Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot. The terroir is ideal for imparting complex fruit and floral characteristics along with a unique spiciness and well-balanced acidity to our wines. This contributes to that special “sense of place” to our wines, and truly reflects Naramata Bench qualities in a bottle.

A huge thank you to our industry colleagues on the Naramata Bench Sub-GI Initiative for their hard work in seeing this through to fruition: Cynthia Enns, Kathy Malone, Gavin Miller, Valeria Tait and Bob Tennant. The technical report is available here, and the proposal is here.

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