It was a combination of passions that brought owners Gavin and Shana Miller together many years ago. He a winemaker originally from the UK, she a cheesemaker originally from Nova Scotia, now married 16 years; they always shared the dream of owning their winery and combining their crafts.

That magical day arrived in 2010 when a former Holman property on Penticton’s Upper Bench came up for auction. The stars aligned, partners Margareta and Wayne Nystrom were found, and the deal was sealed.

The plans for Upper Bench Winery have our food and wine world buzzing with excitement. Imagine a tasting room with Gavin’s wine, Shana’s cheese as well as a fruit stand out front. Their partner’s daughter Tessa Sjöblom, who also handles the winery’s administration and marketing, will be opening Tessa’s Tree Fruit in July. Fresh bread also fits into this delicious equation with baguettes and bread delivered to the tasting room every day. Wine, cheese, bread, fruit… a gourmand’s dream combination.

Gavin Miller is a very well known and respected Winemaker. With a history of creating wines at some of our most celebrated wineries, it is no surprise that what is coming out his own tank and barrel is nothing less than spectacular. His Upper Bench Estate vineyard grows seven varietals on seven acres and this Spring he will be releasing a Rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling as well as a Merlot and Pinot Noir (with grapes from the Nystrom’s Naramata Bench property).

Wine touring visitors and neighbours will be able to pop into this easily accessible, euro-like, farm gate style winery after work, or while touring. They can choose to either relax with a glass of wine, a plate of cheese and fresh bread on the patio or fill up their shopping baskets with goodness to take home.

Shana will be launching her artisan cheese this Spring with three varieties to start: a Brie, a Blue Cheese and a Washed Rind. It was so exciting watching Shana in her creamery as she lovingly demonstrated how to cut the curd. She talks to her cheese too – like plants – and feels it makes them taste better. (I made sure to lavish huge praise on the curd before I left.)

Flavour. This is their mantra, their mission statement, their brand. I love that the design of the wine labels also reflects this common denominator. The colour bars on the label depict the wine’s individual flavour profile. All colour hues were chosen from a Cezanne painting and each type of wine has a different label reflecting the flavours prevalent in the bottle. Not only are their individual passions evident in the products they are creating, but they are also an incredibly fun, warm and inviting group who can’t wait to share the love of their craft.

Bravo Upper Bench Winery! We look forward to celebrating your flavour.

~ Jennifer Schell

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