The Upper Bench Winery is one of the first wineries you’ll encounter on your journey to the Naramata Bench and new for 2012. It’s arrival has brought the area the perfect pairing; not only do they feature wine, but also cheese and fruit, covering almost all your snacking needs. The team behind the project includes Winemaker Gavin Miller, previously at Painted Rock and Poplar Grove and his wife/partner Shana Miller, the former Cheesemaker at Poplar Grove, and the craftswoman behind the artisan cheese sold at the winery.
The other family involved in the project is Wayne and Margareta Nystrom along with their daughter, Tessa Sjöblom, who is responsible for Upper Bench Winery’s administration and marketing and also supplies the fruit for sale at Tessa’s Tree Fruits. You can stop in and watch Shana hand-craft her cheese through the window on the exterior of the building as well as to taste the wines. Cheeses include the Gold Series, coming in natural flavour, a brine-washed, creamy, smooth and buttery cheese and also the French Gold with Provence herbs, and Italian Gold with sun-dried tomatoes, onion and garlic, and Okanagan Sun2 a creamy, aromatic washed rind.
Other delights include the King Cole, a semi-soft veiny blue, the Grey Baby, a mushroomy surface-ripened blue and a U&Brie a creamy brie. Buy a few and sample alongside the wines to find your favourite pairing.
2010 Pinot Noir $26.90
A beautiful Pinot with full fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Lots of fruit in the glass here; berries again as well as currants and some caramel notes. Finishes with soft tannins. Try with duck, salmon, mushrooms and turkey. ~ Cassandra Anderton