As wineries across Canada are ramping up and preparing for the upcoming harvest, Bench 1775, a small but promising winery propped up on the Naramata Bench, is still reaping the rewards from a fruitful season. The viticulturist of the young winery, Val Tait, said the long, dry summers that veil B.C.’s interior not only give long lasting harvest seasons, but yield fruit with a bright, distinct taste.
“The fruit tends to be very expressive, with a very beautiful balance of acidity,” Tait explained, “so it has a lot of bright freshness about it and very pure fruit taste.” Because the soil that blankets the Naramata Bench lends itself to the production of fresh acidic fruits that populate it, the wines that come out of this region have a bright and vibrant quench.
What started out as a small production, with 900 cases of its first vintage, has grown impressively in a short amount of time. It was rated eighth best winery in the country by WineAlign, the longstanding wine publication that reviews Canadian wines. Still considered a young winery, Bench 1775 is into its eighth harvest, with 25,000 cases and counting.
“We wanted to start a winery where basically I would to be able to make wines that were really true expressions of what came from the vineyard that were unapologetically Okanagan,” Tait said, “so everything is driven by fruits produced in the vineyard and we make small lots of a number of experimental wines which is fun.”
Tait, who is also the winemaker and the general manager of Bench 1775, wanted to bring the wine world something she felt it was missing. Flooded with what she called “masculine wines” that are jammy, heavy, and deeper and darker in taste and colour, she wanted to bring the consumer more wines that tasted “feminine” – wines that are more delicate, balanced, and fresh.
“I felt like the kinds of wine I like to drink are more approachable to have with food, are more nuanced and delicate,” she said. “I really wanted to make wines that people could enjoy with dinner or with friends and the whole time you’re drinking and enjoying our wine, Bench 1775 wine, that you never feel like ‘oh that’s too much’ but instead when your glass is empty it’s like ‘wow is it gone already? Pass me the bottle!’”