PROTECTING THE NARAMATA BENCH/AMPERSAND DISTILLERY
Tasting Room Radio was created in a studio barn on the Naramata Bench in 2007.
We were attracted by the space, the people and the farming community. Since we moved back to the Coast in 2011 we’ve become aware how The Bench has grown. In some cases, not in a good way.
The good news is the food/restaurant possibilities have become much better, sustainable farming has become the norm.
The wines have truly become better and better. Some World Class. Accommodation has improved and grown with the area.
With success comes some serious challenges. Wine fans from all over dream of living part of the year in wine country. No problem unless building that housing could seriously affect the whole of Naramata Bench.
Let’s face it. From April to October the Okanagan Valley can be swarmed with visitors. The Naramata Bench and its single road on a busy day can be challenging for the wine fan and the farmer.
Now comes “the development” on Spiller Road. Just at that S shaped “crash corner” at Red Rooster. High on that hill a housing community is taking shape and it threatens the locals and their vineyards.
A Penticton petition calling to “preserve and protect” Penticton’s Naramata Bench has gathered close to 15,000 signatures . The 121 acre site located beside the local land fill boasts 324 single and multi-residential housing units.
Some residents aren’t impressed.
“Allowing the Naramata Bench to be developed beyond the current agricultural density would forever change the look and feel of the area. It would take away from the destination as a sought after recreational area, affect wildlife, the natural abundance and ultimately affect all of the businesses in the area in a negative way,” reads the petition started by Josie Tyabji on Change.org.
We thought it was time to share this conflict with you, the wine fan.
We have interviews with :
Lindsay O’Rourke Co-Founder of Tightrope Winery.
Lindsay ORourke. Tightrope
Gjoa Taylor & John Bilodeau from Gjoa Vineyards
Gjoa Taylor. John Bilodeau
Duncan McCowan President of Hillside Estate Winery and Bistro
Duncan McCowan Hillside
Chef Ned Bell Naramata Inn. (recorded before Christmas but gives a sense of how special Naramata Town and area are)
Jessica Schacht is the co-founder of Ampersand, along with her husband Jeremy, along with Jeremys parents Stephen and Ramona.
In 2007 the same summer that Meg and I moved to Naramata, Stephen and Ramona moved to the Cowichan Valley to start a vegetable farm. Jeremy perhaps didn’t see it as a farm “per se” but as another classroom to extend his education in chemical process engineering. A distillery was born. They created all the equipment themselves and called the passion project Ampersand.
How well did they learn?
Ampersand Gin was voted Best BC Distilled Gin 2016-2018
Per Se Vodka was voted Best BC Distilled Vodka 2016-2019
And Per Se won World’s Best Varietal at the 2020 World Vodka Awards.
Very happy to welcome back to TRR – Jessica and Ampersand.
Saturday, August 1st isFood Day Canada – a chance to salute Canada’s favourite foods, farmers and all the people involved in our culinary experiences! Hail to the farmers, those who harvest fish and shell fish, those who get our foods to us fresh and safe, to the chefs and restaurateurs, the grocery stores and everyone in the food chain.
Buy Local. Eat Local. Shop sustainably. Let’s all get out of this year alive, well and still in business.
ANITA STEWART – Founder of Food Day Canada. Food Laureate, University of Guelph
Anita Stewart was a little girl selling beans on the side of the road. Who knew she would become the author of 14 cookbooks and founder of one of Canada’s most talked about culinary events.
Anita’s farming roots and farming smarts earned her a membership into the Order of Canada and the first interview on today’s Tasting Room Radio. Thank You Anita!
CHEF ABUL ADAME – The Kitchen at da Silva Winery (Naramata Bench)
“Mexican born, never cooked back home, moved to Canada 20 years ago. “Throughout my first years as a newcomer, the thought of a restaurant job was an “easy thought” for a start up. but, it seemingly became a life style long term commitment and a true addictive passionate affair to me.”
Jennifer Schell is a highly acclaimed food and wine writer, columnist, and former editor of BC Food & Wine Trails Magazine. Her three cookbooks, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker (In the Okanagan & ‘By The Sea’) are Canadian bestsellers and have won numerous international awards.
She is also the co-founder/producer of Garagiste North Wine Festivals, an event celebrating BC’s small lot wine producers chosen as one of the Top Wine Festivals in the Word in 2015 by the London Financial Times.
Jennifer was also the founder of Soup Sisters (Kelowna), a charity organization that focuses on feeding the Women and children at the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and the youth on the streets.
Above all, she is a food, wine & culture leader.
Plus she is part of the Schell Family Winery with her two brothers.
This is not just a book filled with recipes. Each farming family has its own story.
And when you open their wines, the stories come spilling out. Generations of wines, harvests, long table dining, and every conceivable weather story.
Jenn knows it’s the stories, the people and the food that make wine a great experience.
Ned Bell and his wife Kate Colley have come full circle.
Ned grew up 20 minutes from Naramata Village. Kate met Ned on our veranda on The Bench
They married and had two sons.
They have both had outstanding careers. Ned through bigger and bigger kitchens. Kate through her own successful marketing and media company.
They last worked together at The Four Seasons in Vancouver.
Then over two years ago Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s beaten it back with an amazing team of professionals.
(even as I write, she’s going through more treatment in Vancouver)
They decided to come full circle and return to the Naramata Bench. Specifically, the tiny hamlet of Naramata.
With their partners Maria Wiesner and Paul Hollands, they bought the Naramata Heritage Inn at the end of the main street. Over the years the Inn has represented a beloved base of community and become a destination for visitors. With 12 vintage rooms above and a dining room and bar below, the inn is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Trust me. The rooms are a memory you’ll treasure always.
Ned, Kate, and the new owners bring world-class culinary experience to the kitchen, which is all about sourcing and celebrating local.
The Inn will deliver a proudly “Naramatian” experience. From produce to proteins, the menus will be built around the best local growers and artisans in Naramata and the Valley. It will showcase the true depth and breadth of award-winning wines produced by British Columbia’s winemakers.
Keep in mind, you’re surrounded by 20-30 wineries and a lake that goes on forever.