Did you know that BC has a semi-arid desert region, the Okanagan Valley that is famous for its vineyards and tasty wine? We have visited a few times now, but when our friends invited us to join them for a wine tour, we were very happy to go again! However I had a cold during the week we were meant to go, so (to be safe) I went for a covid-19 test. Of course, the results took longer than expected…so we didn’t leave on Friday night as planned. We woke up early the next morning to find out I was negative (woot woot) so drove over late to join our friends and attempt to join the tour late.
By the time we’d made it to Naramata, we’d missed more than half our tour, so Marc and I made up our own self-guided wine tour on foot. This turned out to be a great way to explore the area, so I thought I should share it.
Self guided wine tour map
This is the basic route we took. We did this with no planning (I called the various wineries as we walked towards them.) We doubled back a bit as we couldn’t get appointments in the right order, so our actual route was about 10km.
Most of the wineries had a small fee ($10) for their wine tastings, that was waived if you bought a bottle. We carried some of the wine away with us, and left some at the wineries to pick them up the following morning.
The Naramata Bench area is on the East side of Okanagan Lake, between Penticton Creek and Okanagan Mountain Park. It’s a small region but covered in vineyards. There are over 50 wineries (BC wines website says 52) within about a 20 minute drive. We loved all the wines we’d tried in this region previously…so we just started walking towards wine.
Location: 2493 Gammon Road, Naramata, BC, Canada V0H 1N1
The first stop was Lang Vineyards. This beautiful winery has been here for over 30 years, so the vines are a little more mature. Our tasting started slightly late, so we were brought some bubbles to sip while we waited for the previous group to finish. It was a great start.
We really liked their Gewurztraminer (which was dry, rather than too sweet), and their Merlot which they brew in stainless steel, so it has a pure flavour. Marc also really loved their Riesling ice wine. In the end we bought 4 bottles – Gewurztraminer, Riesling (ice wine), Merlot and Marechal Foch. They mentioned that they have the oldest foch grapes in the Okanagan. They’re old fochs. 😉
One of the highlights of visiting Lang’s is the view. We visited on a bit of a moody day, but Okanagan Lake was sparkling below us and it was simply beautiful. From here, the next vineyard was only 15 minutes walk away.
Location: 1202 Gawne Road, Naramata, British Columbia, Canada
Mocojo’s tastings take about 30 minutes. It’s best to reserve in advance, but they do take walk-ins too. This winery opened in 2014, so it is new-ish, but has some lovely wines. Due to covid-19, they were organizing their tastings outside.
Oh! I should also mention Mocojo has a super friendly, giant dog called Moose who greets everyone who visits to taste wine. We needed to walk down the hill to the next vineyard, another 15 minutes walk.
Location: 1016 Littlejohn Road, Naramata, BC V0H 1N0
This is a teeny winery with another friendly dog sitting outside. We arrived at the same time as another couple, so they allowed us to all have a tasting together. It would be better to call ahead and book if you can.
Marichel is a lovely, artisanal winery that only grows two kinds of grapes, viognier and syrah. But, they take so much care in growing their grapes that the wine they produce is fantastic. We ended up buying Lone Wolf Syrah Estate and Estate Viognier.
Next was the least pleasant part of our walk. The last time we visited, our favourite winery was Joie. It was only about 20 minutes walk away, so we wandered along Naramata Road to reach it. The problem is, there are no sidewalks on this winding road, and plenty of cars. Still, the views continued to be gorgeous.
Joie Farm Winery
Location: 2825 Naramata Rd, Naramata, BC V0H 1N1
This last one was a bit of a cheat. We didn’t stop for a full tasting, as we had visited before (last time we liked every single wine we tried here!) It’s a friendly, fun winery to visit.
We popped in to buy some of their Noble Blend, along with some Gamay. They have a pleasant garden so I do recommend adding Joie farm to your list around Naramata Bench.
So it turns out it is VERY easy to organize your own self guided walking wine tour of the Naramata Bench! If you decide to do something similar, you wouldn’t have to choose the same wineries. There are so many options, you can go for a walk close to wherever you are staying. You don’t need to pay for a fancy wine tour to experience the wines of Naramata.
Do you like the idea of exploring the Naramata Bench area on foot to try wines with mini hikes to sober you up in between? Or would you prefer to have everything organized for you on a tour? I’d love to know what you think!