Wine and cheese make an obvious perfect pairing, so when long-time friends Gitta Pedersen of Poplar Grove Cheese and Ross Hackworth of Nichol Vineyard – both seeking a new business partnership – sat down one day to chat, they had a serious AHA! moment.

Gitta’s beautiful cheese is renowned for its high quality and has become a favorite for BC Chefs and restaurants. A similar relationship stands with the industry-loving Nichol Winery brand created by Ross – both for its high quality as well as for his pioneering effort in launching wine on tap here in the valley.  Gitta has been farming the beautiful lakeview vineyard around her property (herself!), and decided that it was time to fill the former winery space of Poplar Grove Winery. It was a perfect fit for Ross who was interested in creating a new label and expanding his portfolio.  

This year Clean Slate Winery will be making 1200 cases and five wines including their popular blend White Slate as well as two rosés made in the bone-dry Provence style.  Hackworth describes he and his business partner, Matthew Sherlock, as sharing the same vision as well as the same “old school, euro-centric palates”.  That with the high quality fruit on the property is a recipe for great wines.

The property, now housed with a cheese shop and winery, offers a glamorous, one-of-a-kind view over Naramata onto sparkling Okanagan Lake. Gitta has added picnic tables, some with cover, so that her guests can linger over lunch, glass of Clean Slate in one hand, cracker slathered with luxurious cheese in the other, and stay a while. Poplar Grove cheese maker Louise Pearson has been offering amazing cheese making classes in the cheese shop on the vineyard this year. If you are interested in learning – hands on – about the exciting and delicious world of cheese making email: or call 250-492-4575. 


(shown in photo: Ross Hackworth & Gitta Pedersen)


~ Jennifer Schell