Welcome to our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries for 2024! Situated on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, the Naramata Bench is renowned for its picturesque vineyards, wineries and unparalleled terroir. Aptly called “The Bench” for its position perched up above the lake and with wineries speckled all along its route, the sheer density of wineries and wide range of estates make this region a world class wine touring destination!
Everything from family run boutique wineries to sprawling, opulent estate wineries exist here. Big or small, whichever experience you’re after, the Naramata Bench and the surrounding wineries are sure to please. Many of the established and well-known wineries have long made a name for themselves, with throngs of tourists visiting each and every summer. Many of these have distribution nationally or internationally with wines available worldwide.
These are the wineries we have all come to know and love. But there are some lesser known wineries that are well worth exploring, and we are here to showcase those hidden gems. Join us in discovering some of the most exciting, up and coming properties as we showcase our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries in 2024.
First on our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries is Daydreamer Wines. Spearheaded by Rachel and Marcus Ansems, this family-run winery focuses on producing fine wines. Having been in the wine industry for over 20 years, the couple long “daydreamed” about owing their own winery. Now a reality, the couple rigidly adhere to sustainable and small batch processing, and are committed to growing grapes without systemic fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides.
Their limited production wines come from the best sites in the Okanagan Valley, and the attention to detail comes through in the end product.
Their portfolio includes rosé, viognier, pinot gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay on the white side, while their portfolio of reds showcase pinot noir, cabernet franc, and syrah. Daydreamer is also one of the very few to produce an orange wine. Composed of 50% viognier and 50% pinot gris, their orange wine comes from a very old technique in which white varietals are made like red wines.
What ultimately surfaces is a wine with a beautiful and robust orange colour. Another coveted wine that industry experts constantly reference is their Amelia, a co-fermented Syrah and Viognier, with aromas of violet, peppercorn and blackberries.
Next up on our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries is Therapy Vineyards. A very basic premise guides the team at Therapy Vineyards — to produce the kinds of wines that they enjoy! For them, that means whites that are aromatic, clean, crisp and fresh, and reds that are well-aged, balanced, and approachable from the moment they hit the shelves.
Surrounded by panoramic views of estate vineyards, Okanagan Lake, and Giant’s Head Mountain, the hospitality team aims to make each visit a therapeutic one for their guests. Wines are cheekily and wittingly named to fit the therapeutic theme — “Fizzio Therapy Blanc”, “Freudian Sip”, “Freudified”, “Ego” and “Super Ego” to name a few.
All kidding aside, their Super Ego means business and packs a real punch. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes round out this heavy hitter, which displays a dark ruby red colour and boasts intoxicating aromas of mocha, dark chocolate, cassis, berries, and tobacco. Aged in oak barrels for 25 months, tannins are present and accompanied by a juicy finish.
Those of us more meek and mild may wish to cellar for 7 to 10 years while the bold and brave among us are encouraged to decant before enjoying. Whether you’re in need of therapy or not, a trip to Therapy Vineyards is one you won’t regret!
Third on our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries, Tightrope Winery! If you’ve ever walked a tightrope, then you know what an impeccable balancing act it requires. Owners Lyndsay and Graham believe that life should be lived with a similar (yet much less terrifying) balance! Life, wine, work, and play are always better enjoyed when balance is involved. Because Tightrope is not only a vineyard and a winery, but also home to Lyndsay and Graham’s growing family, an emphasis on sustainability is paramount to the couple.
Committed to making the highest quality wine in a manner that best supports both people and the planet, Tightrope Winery adheres to sustainable vineyard management and winery management practices. Riesling, Viognier, sémillon, pinot gris, pinot noir and merlot along with cabernet franc and barbera make up the grapes grown on their estate vineyards.
While their entire portfolio is worthy of rave reviews, their Sémillon has received national recognition. Characterized by lemon, lime zest, grapefruit, this sémillon delivers a fresh, crisp and dry finish — perfect for those hot summer days in the Okanagan! Exemplifying balance like few can, the family at Tightrope (and their amazing vineyard dogs) welcome you for a visit the next time you’re on the Naramata Bench!
It is not everyday that you stumble upon a British Columbia winery who’s mission it is to produce reasonably priced, small production wines. Enter in Lock & Worth, well positioned on our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries. How do they seek to accomplish this? Every penny spent goes towards making wine. Not a dollar is put towards marketing, fancy labels, heavy bottles, advertising, nor award show entries. Instead, the focus is on producing quality wines and keeping prices at bay for the consumer.
As for the wines themselves, Lock & Worth produces rosé, keener, semillon, sauvignon blanc, and merlot. Of significant interest is their Cabernet Franc Rosé, which comes from the original Poplar Grove Vineyard planted in 1995. With 3 hours of skin contact, this wine was fermented in stainless steel and displays notes of cranberry, orange peel, and pomegranate. Exceptionally fruit and slightly off dry, this one goes down a bit too easy (and is equally easy on the wallet)!
As if reasonably priced, delicious wines weren’t enough, Lock & Worth also shares a tasting room with Poplar Grove Cheese. This means guests to the winery can taste wines and artisanal cheeses together. Lock & Worth is a fan favourite and easily makes our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries
New to the area and our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries is Chain Reaction. Husband and wife duo Joel and Linda are avid cyclists turned vineyard owners and winemakers. Their dreams became reality in 2018 when they abandoned their Vancouver-based technology jobs and moved to the Okanagan for sunnier skies. It was love at first sight when the couple laid eyes on the Naramata Bench property, located only a stone’s throw from the Kettle Valley Rail Trail (Naramata’s ultra popular cycling route).
Keeping just about every aspect of the business within the family, from social media and marketing to label design, vineyard management, winemaking, and tasting room operations, Joel and Linda are lucky to fit the occasional bike ride in! But their hard work has undoubtedly paid off, as Chain Reaction now proudly offers an exceptional portfolio of wines — chardonnay, riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, pinot noir, and the newest addition, cabernet franc round out their outstanding lineup.
Their Midnight Sparkling Wine is a real highlight, containing a blend of 70% riesling and 30% gewürztraminer. Slightly off dry and with notes of apple and lime zest, this is an easy sipping, crisp sparkling wine, with a fresh acidity that can be enjoyed alone or with food.
Pinot Noir is what the winery is perhaps best known for, and their Pinot Noir Reserve does not disappoint. With only 37 cases produced, this is a highly coveted wine, boasting alluring aromas of dark cherry, blueberry pie, cassis, vanilla, and black tea. Whether you get there by car, by foot, or cycle your way there, make sure to include Chain Reaction Winery on your next visit to the Naramata Bench!
As an honourable mention, Upper Bench Estate Winery is another top bet on our list of the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries. While technically located just “off the bench”, their philosophy, focus and wines produced are exceptional and embody everything a wine lover could hope for when discovering new vineyards to visit.
As a top wine region in the Okanagan Valley, there are no shortage of exceptional, world-class wineries to visit along the Naramata Bench wine trail. But as with any vacation or trip, some of the most memorable moments are found when we seek out the road less travelled. The most memorable wine experiences we’ve found are by visiting the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries.
The next time you visit the Penticton area, make sure your lineup of wineries to visit includes the lesser known names that are sure to offer incredible wine experiences. It’s the best hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries that get us most excited when heading out for a day of wine tasting.
With unparalleled hospitality, exceptional small lot wines, beautiful views, and owners often nearby, these wineries separate themselves with their care, attention to detail and quality. We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of hidden gem Naramata Bench wineries, and hope to see you at one of these great spots soon!
For wine lovers looking for the ultimate touring options when visiting the area, please check out our Naramata Bench Wine Tour.