It was a beautiful sunny day when we arrived at Bench 1775 Winery around mid-morning. The winery is named after its address on Naramata Road. The 18.5-acre vineyard’s prominent features include a breathtaking view of the Lake Okanagan from the patio and a lengthy private beach, access to which is an added perk for wine club members. Bench 1775 produces about 7000 cases of ice wine and 8000 cases of table wine annually. The winery has a very strong export business.
Wines from Bench 1775 are produced from grapes grown in the Okanagan Valley from three vineyard locations: Oxbow Vineyard, on the original Golden Mile in Osoyoos, and at Paradise Ranch Vineyard and Soaring Eagle Vineyard in the Central Okanagan. All the vineyard sites were analysed in detail before being planted with clones and rootstocks best suited to our soils and the climate.
Val Tait is the General Manager and Winemaker that manages the vineyard and winery operations. Val’s technical education includes Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from Simon Fraser University and Oenology and Viticulture from UC Davis. She started working at the Summerland research station on plant viruses and then developed her independent consulting business with grape growers in the early 1990s as new vineyards were being planted. Val had previous winemaking experience at Poplar Grove, Painted Rock and Mission Hill wineries.
After wandering through the well-appointed wine shop we checked in with Alex, a very knowledgeable wine enthusiast. Here are a few of the wines we tried:
Bench 1775 Chill 2015 A blend of 7 varietals captures the fresh vibrant flavours of fully ripe fruit. Made up of mostly Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier this wine has bright notes of lemon, guava, pineapple and gooseberry.
Bench 1775 Pinot Gris 2015 4% Gewürztraminer in the blend spikes the aromas. Ripe apple, pear and peach on the nose with hints of caramel apple, bright citrus and finishing with juicy fruit.
Bench 1775 Sauvignon Blanc 2015 There is 10% Sémillon in this blend and the wine is the result of multiple picks over 4 weeks. The wine begins with aromas of gooseberry and grapefruit leading to lime and herbs on the finish. A bright crisp white with controlled acidity.
Bench 1775 Groove 2014 87% Merlot, 11.5% Malbec, 1.5% Cabernet Franc from the Oxbow Vineyard in Osoyoos. Aromas of plum and cherries with bright flavours of raspberry, currants and red cherries and a hint of vanilla on the finish.
Bench 1775 Pinot Noir 2013 100% Bench 1775 vineyard from 8-year-old vines. A nicely balanced Pinot. On the nose delicate notes of thyme and cherry . On the palate, this wine has layers of complexity delivered by notes of anise, orange rind, cherry, dried herbs all overlaid with subtle notes of soft cedar box, and fine tannins. The finish is rich with dusty tannins.
Bench 1775 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 Aged 12 Months in 2 Years Old French Oak. Aromas of violets and black cherries are followed by flavours blackberries, currant and mulberry with a long finish.
Our personal favourites were the Sauvignon Blanc and The Groove Merlot Blend. You can find the Bench 1775 complete wine portfolio at the following link.
We had heard good thing about the Bistro but they were short staffed on this Monday morning and were only offering Pizzas. Maybe next time.
We can definitely recommend a stop at Bench 1775 the next time you are in Naramata.