While Upper Bench Winery & Creamery acquired the current location relatively recently (2011), the team has been building expertise and traditions in wine and cheesemaking on the Naramata Bench for years. When Gavin Miller visited the Okanagan from England in 1995 he met Shana at Poplar Grove Winery. They soon married and returned to the UK. To pursue his passion to grow grapes and make wine in BC, they returned in 1997. Shana embarked on her calling to the art of cheesemaking in 2002, learning from the original cheesemaker at Poplar Grove, Sandra Chalmers. While Gavin and Shana worked in industry and raised their family, they planted 140 of their own vines in their home garden to create a one-barrel stock of personal wine annually. They lovingly tended the vines as a family, and even as toddlers, their children participated. Gavin’s co-fermented Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon became such a favourite, when they attended family and friends’ gatherings, they were always asked to bring their “yard wine.” Flash forward to their partnership with Wayne and Margareta Nystrom to rebuild a former winery to include a state-of-the-art creamery. Today, Upper Bench offers a line of cheeses along with highly lauded wines, and old acquaintances still request “yard wine.” Inspired by that insiders’ tradition, and facilitated by the availability of high quality grapes of those varietals, Gavin decided to broaden Upper Bench’s portfolio with Yard Wine for us all to enjoy. Watch www.upperbench.ca for release dates and join Upper Bench’s Curds & Corks Club to be first in line.
Photo: Gavin & Shana launch their cool new label: Yard Wine.
~ Roslyne Buchanan