The Upper Bench Estate Winery is where fine fromage meets stellar winemaking. 

Gavin and Shana Miller, respectively Winemaker and Cheesemaker at Upper Bench, not only share a life together but also a passion for expressing the gastronomic bounty of BC’s southern interior.

“The purity of the place must come through in the glass,” says Gavin. Modestly describing himself as a mere helper in a natural process, this award-winning Winemaker believes that “If everything is in balance in the vineyard, everything will be in balance in the bottle.” 

The results of his minimalist approach are extraordinary. Like charming people at a party, the wines in Gavin’s repertoire introduce themselves with an unforgettable flourish and then linger, to everyone’s pleasure. This is as true of his restrained Pinot Gris as it is of his luscious Merlot. And stay tuned, his spectacular unreleased Pinot Noir, a newcomer that emerges boldly from the barrel, is wonderfully unlike any you have tasted — truly the Okanagan in a bottle. 

Gavin’s skill with grapes finds its equal in Shana’s alchemy with milk. A self-described “curd nerd,” she magically transforms Sicamous cow’s milk into sigh-worthy cheeses ranging from a buttery Brie to an earthy blue called Grey Baby. Pairing perfectly with Gavin’s wines, Shana’s gourmet creations epitomize the cheesemaker’s art.

In a world where the path from apprentice to craftsman is often difficult and long, Gavin and Shana have quickly proven themselves uncompromising masters of their trades. 

(Photo: Cheesemaker Shana left, and Winemaker Gavin Miller)

~ Barry Potyondi

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