Tucked away in the heart of the Okanagan and bordering the southeast edge of Okanagan Lake is the wine region known as the Naramata Bench. It’s here that you’ll find well over 30 wineries all within close proximity to each other. In my opinion, some of the best wines from Canada come from many of the quaint and off the beaten path Naramata wineries.
The high concentration of orchards and vineyards that follow a beautiful winding road make for a perfect few days of wine tasting.
The gorgeous tapestry of aesthetically aligned grape vines make for a beautiful wine sipping setting.
And with the sparkling Okanagan Lake at sunset with the looming Okanagan hills in the distance, you can easily forget that you’re in Canada and not Napa Valley or Tuscany!
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Where is Naramata?
Naramata is located in British Columbia, Canada, and is about four hours’ drive east of Vancouver. It’s located in what’s known as the Thompson Okanagan region.
This area is best known for its large warm lakes, abundant fruit and hot climate in the summer (including Canada’s only desert).
Many days between June and August see temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius (or 95 degrees Fahrenheit).
There are actually over 200 wineries in the entire region, in which you could spend well over 2 or 3 weeks exploring and searching for your favorite Pinot Noir to take home.
There are over 40 wineries alone in Naramata and along the Bench providing a perfect sampling of some of the best wines in Canada all within a 20 minute drive.
The Best (and My Favorite) Naramata Wineries
Each time we visit Naramata we stay for a few nights, but always wish we stay longer! But if you only have a couple days (or even just a day trip) you can still get a great taste of what the area has to offer.
I highly recommend staying at a vineyard if you’ve never done it. Naramata has several stunning winery guest suites to choose from.
Most winery tasting rooms are open between 10 am and 5 pm. Some are open until 6 o’clock, so be sure to check hours of operation if you have certain places that you want to check out.
Also, the standard wine tasting fee around here is usually $5 per person but is waived with a purchase. Many winery tasting rooms are also dog friendly!
We chose to start here because they’re more of a fruit-based winery and since it was our first stop we figured we would start with something a little more on the light and fruity side.
In my opinion, they have one of the best settings for wine tasting. It’s a perfect little garden patio, shaded by large fruit trees.
What I loved about this place was that the wine tasting staff and the information provided about each wine was in depth and knowledgeable in pairing options with food.
They also had great recommendations for drink options. For instance, I absolutely loved the crab apple wine, so the server suggested a great cocktail I could make called the ‘rosemary swizzle!’
Mix crab apple wine with gin, tonic water and a sprig of rosemary and you have a sophisticated summertime backyard cocktail.
We also left with a bottle of their white wine made from pears and their deadly blackcurrant dessert wine. They say it pairs perfectly with frozen grapes, cheese and a hot tub. Sounds like the perfect Friday night to me!
As an added bonus, in early August when the lavender is in full bloom, there are gorgeous bushes all along the side roads all around Naramata.
Next, we made our way to a winery a few minutes off the main road heading toward the lake. The tasting room at Therapy Vineyards is a beautiful, modern and simplistic air conditioned space.
The perfect second stop after being on the outdoor patio. The funky corrugated metal building (which is a fun photo spot) is long and narrow with a u-shaped tasting bar. Grab a seat where you can overlook the valley of grape vines below.
Not only was the server upbeat and friendly, there was a fun photo booth here! This place is likely a favorite among the younger wine tasting crowd. And you choose the wines you want to taste almost in a ‘bingo’ card style, which made it extra fun!
Our favorite white wine was the Freudian Sip, affectionately nicknamed the ‘patio pounder.’ The Sauvignon Blanc took our taste buds to citrus city, so naturally we took a few bottles of each home.
We loved their Pink Freud Rosé as well. It was a complex mix of berries, yet perfectly soft and balanced.
Just down the road is the Serendipity winery. Upon arrival you’re greeted to a large stone and wood building, reminiscent of something you might find in Tuscany.
There’s a stunning patio within a few feet of the grape vines, shaded by a large pergola. The tasting room is small and standing room only, making it a more personal experience compared to some of the other Naramata wineries.
Our tasting server once again made the experience fun and lighthearted and gave us a great history lesson of the area while keeping our glasses full! She also recommended other wineries to visit based on our interests and tastes, which we really appreciated.
This is a relatively new and very small family-run winery. Geographically, it’s one of the highest wineries in Canada.
As they’re a small production, they focus on sustainable and all natural farming practices to really capture the essence of the terroir that surrounds you. They’ve got a small shack (literally) as their tasting room which creates an intimate atmosphere.
The white selection here is fantastic. The Pinot Gris was one of my favorites of the entire day. Bring your own cheese and charcuterie board up here, grab a chilled white and enjoy a picturesque picnic.
Read Next: 19 Things to Do in the Okanagan (+ hidden gems and unique ideas)
Next, we took a small break from wine and headed to a funky distillery. They’ve got a great patio and some hand crafted cocktails with very knowledgeable staff who explain the entire ‘farm to glass’ process.
The view from the patio is worth a stop alone! And it’s dog friendly!
I’m saving my last two favorite Naramata wineries for last! Lang Vineyards was probably the biggest surprise. We hadn’t heard much about it, and upon arrival it’s one of the least fancy of all the establishments we had been to. But that just meant the wine was incredible!
We learned that this vineyard is one of the oldest in the region, with some vines being more than 60 years old! Honestly, I don’t even need to describe this place, the wine speaks for itself.
We were blown away by the Marechal Foch red wine. Out of the 5 of us who tried it, we all announced it was the best red wine we’ve ever had. We downed 2 bottles with our steak dinner the next night, oops!
Bonus: Lang Vineyards is dog friendly!
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Last, but not least is the impressive and aptly named Hillside Winery. You can’t miss this place as it’s located right on Naramata Road, built into the hillside.
The staff here have lots of fun making this a perfect last stop of the day. We walked away with the most bottles from this winery. We learned that the Viognier grape grows quite well in the area.
Most other wine regions in the world have given up on this temperamental grape.
The smoothness of the Hillside Viognier would pair perfectly well with any cheese making this an easy purchase! Their bistro white was recommended as the perfect summertime sipper…another no-brainer!
Where We Stayed on the Naramata Bench
On our most recent trip, we stayed at the Wesbert Winery which has 3 guest rooms to choose from. The view from our private balcony overlooking the vineyard was stunning!
It was walking distance to many wineries, included homemade breakfast and is dog friendly.
Each room has a king bed and a private bathroom with a 2-person tub, and you’re able to use the winery patio after hours.
It was ultra romantic and was one of our favorite Airbnb stays to date.
On another trip, we rented this adorable house called the Yellow Bird. It was the original farmhouse on the vineyard and likely built in the early 1900s. The current property owners have built their own home and now rent out this renovated farmhouse to guests.
Walking out the front door for the first time took my breath away. I could see more wineries than I could count and felt the impending Okanagan heat warming my skin (and it was only 8 a.m.).
From the house we were able to walk to seven wineries and explore some of the great paths part of the Kettle Valley Railway trail network. It was the perfect place to explore the area.
TIP: if you’re hesitant about renting an Airbnb property, don’t be! Read my guide to guarantee a perfect Airbnb rental every time, here.
You can also find tons of other houses to rent on Airbnb. Many of which are estate homes located right on the vineyard. Imagine the view from your bedroom or kitchen window is an endless view of grape vines!
Renting a house along the Bench was the perfect way to spend a couple hot days tasting world class wine, eating dinner on our patio, hiking some easy trails and cooling off at the beach.
If these are the types of activities that interest you, I highly recommend renting a house that are walking distance to several Naramata wineries.
Many houses are located on land used as vineyards and overlooking the valley below, offering striking scenery from every angle of the property or from the window of your house.
How to Get to the Naramata Bench
Where to Fly Into to Get to Naramata
The City of Kelowna is the largest urban hub in the area and has a great international airport to fly in and out of. From Kelowna, it’s just over an hour driving time to get to Naramata.
The drive is gorgeous; neverending panoramic views stay with you the entire way.
You get to follow the entire length of Okanagan Lake. And since the highway is high above the water, the turquoise color really shines through on a sunny day.
Along the way you will pass West Kelowna which has a great selection of large and more well-known wineries. Then, you will pass through smaller communities like Peachland and Summerland that have great roadside fruit stands.
Fresh peaches and cherries are big sellers in the summer.
The Road to Naramata Bench
You will then pass through Penticton which is only a few minutes from the start of the Naramata wineries along the Naramata bench.
Penticton is a great waterfront community that has an amazing boardwalk and beach, great restaurants and craft breweries.
Penticton is a great option to stay if you’re looking for more things to do than just wine tasting. There’s a great beach, fun shops downtown, golf courses close by and tubing down the water channel!
A great spot is the Tiki Shores Condominium Beach Resort which is a value option and literally right across from the beach. But there’s also a pool when you’re tired of the lake!
For something a little more higher end, you can’t go wrong with the Penticton Lakeside Resort. As you can guess, it’s right on the water and every room enjoys a view of the lake. Also, the patio at Hooded Merganser is one of the best in region.
Naramata Winery Tips
We visited in early-august which is right in the middle of summer tourist season. We visited on a weekday and found the we were usually only one of two groups (sometimes 3) doing a tasting at a time.
This made for a great experience as it wasn’t too busy. I would imaging on a Friday or weekend in the dead of summer it would be quite packed.
Best Time to Visit Naramata Wineries
Many of the staff also mentioned they’re now seeing quite a few people choosing to visit in early-May. This is because the area gets very dry in the summer and has been prone to some devastating wildfires in recent years.
So to avoid potentially smokey days and extreme heat, early-May would be a great time to visit. I also know many people who prefer to visit in mid-September and wouldn’t go any other time of year.
But really, anytime between early-May and the end of September will be a great experience!
How Many Wineries Can You Realistically Visit In One Day?
You should have no problem hitting at least 6 wineries in one day, and that would mean taking your time at each of them. We didn’t start our first tasting until 12:30 p.m. and went until 6 p.m.
We were able to visit seven places, with a late lunch break in the middle.
I would highly recommend spending several days along the Naramata bench and visiting 5 or 6 wineries a day for the perfect relaxing wine-filled vacation!
Want to visit more wineries in the area? Don’t forget to check out these 23 hidden gem wineries in the Okanagan, all the way from Kelowna to Osoyoos.
Bringing Your Wine Home
Most wineries have all the information you need about the cost of shipping your wine home or flying with your boxes of wine.
If you’re driving or only bringing home a few bottles, these protector sleeves are perfect for cradling your precious purchases!
All I have to say is buy way more wine than you think you need and thank me when you’re home!
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