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This Naramata Bench winery will convert you to a blue cheese believer

Shana Miller is encouraging guests to try the blue cheese with a pairing.
Shana Miller is encouraging guests to try the blue cheese with a pairing.

A cozy Naramata Bench winery is confident its wine and cheese pairings will have even the naysayers of blue cheese sampling their products.      

Cheesemaker Shana and head winemaker Gavin Miller have co-owned Upper Bench Winery & Creamery since 2011 along with partners Wayne and Margareta Nystrom.

Wine and cheese please at this Okanagan winery'

Their pinnacle wines, the Estate Series, can be purchased at Upper Bench at 170 Upper Bench Rd S. The wines are made from their own vineyards and on leased vineyards near Naramata. This summer, the Millers are welcoming guests to their cozy covered patio (with misters for those hot Okanagan days) for tastings, which feature delicious pairings of their own in house-made cheeses and oven-roasted pizzas, are also created with Shana’s cheeses.

“It’s a very busy spot in the summertime but we’re also open year-round,” Shana said.

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Shana created her own label for her Upper Bench Blue, Brie, and washed-rind cheeses.

Her favourite to make is the King Cole, a blue cheese and the brie, which pairs well with their Riesling and the Estate Chardonnay with Upper Bench’s Gold, a melt-in-your-mouth, buttery cheese that’s a great addition pairing to the Chardonnay.

“There’s something for everybody, all of our cheese  is 100% pasteurised local milk from Salmon Arm,” she said. “We have three types of blue. We will have you believing in blue cheese once you taste it with our pairings.”

Gavin is known for his big Bordeaux-style reds and relishes in his cabernet sauvignon “because so many people told me I couldn’t do this on this site, so it makes me happy when we get awards for it,” he said.

Gavin Miller with the 2018 vintage of the cabernet sauvignon
Gavin Miller with the 2018 vintage of the cabernet sauvignon

Another of his favourite wines is the Altitude, a Bordeaux-style blend created with 75% cabernet sauvignon and 25% merlot grapes straight from their vineyard next door.

“We now actually have four of the Bordeaux’s planted on site here,” he said.

If guests aren’t able to visit the winery, they can taste the South Okanagan wines and cheese from the comfort of their home, as the Corks and Curbs Club receives special perks. Four times a year, the winery will ship six bottles of wine, and three cheeses to any home in the country.

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Each year, they produce up to 7,000 cases of wine that are available in select liquor stores and restaurants across BC and Alberta.

Find out more and reserve a spot on the patio by visiting Upper Bench’s website and be sure to follow them on social media.

Josh the winemaker holds a 2020 Chardonnay
Josh the winemaker holds a 2020 Chardonnay

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