While wine and cheese is a quintessential pairing, there are few places in Canada where both are made on the same property.

However, at Upper Bench Winery & Creamery on the Naramata Bench, Gavin makes the wines from grapes grown in estate vineyards and Shana makes the cheeses from cow’s milk from D Dutchmen Dairy in Sicamous.

The unique set up allows Upper Bench to operate Canada’s only wine and cheese club called Curds & Corks.

The on-site tasting room also doubles as a wine-and-cheese store and wines and cheeses are available for ordering online separately or as packages at UpperBench.ca.

The seven new-release wines all have a suggested cheese match, of course.

The lime-and-gooseberry 2019 Riesling ($22) tastes even better with nibbles

of double cream brie.

• The sharp Belle Marie cheese pairs nicely with the lemon-and-peach 2019 Pinot Blanc ($18).

• The 2019 lime-and-honey Pinot Gris ($20) is ideal with semi-firm Farmer cheese.

• Double cream brie can do double duty with the lemon-and-honeysuckle 2019 Viognier ($22).

• Red wines call for robust blue cheeses.

Match the:

• Creamy Grey Baby with the black-currant-and-blueberry 2017 Merlot ($28);

• Soft Moody Cow with 2018 plum-and-black-licorice Merlot-Cabernet Franc ($18); and

• Bold King Cole with the premium, black-cherry-plum-and-chocolate 2016 Altitude ($40), a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pinot Noir program

Pinot Noir is so important at Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars in Okanagan Falls the winery has made a “program” of it.

While Blue Mountain is in the South Okanagan, the vineyards are above Vaseux Lake in a cool microclimate,

perfect for growing finicky Pinot Noir grapes that result in delicate, but flavourful, red wines.

Blue Mountain makes five Pinots,

including the new-release 2018 Estate Cuvee ($35) and 2018 Reserve Cuvee ($45).

The Estate is the entry-level Pinot with a youthful-and-juicy-cherry profile.

The Reserve is a little more complex, but still has bright cherry aromas and flavours with a hint of earthiness.

Blue Mountain is owned and operated by the Mavety family, including winemaker Matt and sales and marketing manager Christie.

The winery’s three other high-end Pinots are River Flow, Gravel Force and Wild Terrain.

Blue Mountain also makes white and sparkling wines.

Poplar wins

It’s was quite the medal haul at the London (England) Wine Competition for Naramata Bench winery Poplar Grove.

The winery, owned and operated by the Holler family, came home with four gold and one silver medal from the prestigious contest.

Earning gold were:

• 2016 Cabernet Franc ($35), scoring

93 out of 100 points;

• 2016 Syrah ($30) with 92 points;

• 2015 Legacy red blend ($52) earning

91 points; and

• 2016 Merlot ($26) with 90 points.

• 2018 Pinot Gris ($19) picked up a silver medal, scoring coring 85 points.

“I am so proud of our winemaking team, led by Stefan Arnason, our consultant Alain Sutre, and our farming team led by my sons, Andrew and Matthew,” said president Tony Holler.

“From the beginning, we were convinced the Okanagan Valley would be internationally recognized as a premium wine region.”


The Grand Crew is a collective of five small Okanagan wineries intent on

supporting each other in sustainable farming, grape sourcing, equipment sharing and joint marketing..

The co-operative is made up of:

• Niche Wine Co. of West Kelowna

• Nagging Doubt in Kelowna

• Tender Hope of West Kelowna

• Winemaker’s Cut in Oliver

• Black Market in Kaleden.

To launch the partnership, the wineries have teamed up with Public Liquor to sell a special collection of five limited-production wines, including:

• Black Market 2019 Rose

• 2018 Nagging Doubt Chardonnay

• Niche 2018 Pinot Noir

• Tender Hope 2018 Fire Dance Meritage red blend

• Winemaker’s Cut 2019 Gruner Veltliner.

The Grand Crew Collective Pack is $108 and available at the store, located in the strip mall across Highway 97 from Kelowna International Airport, and online at PublicLiquor.com.

Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover. Email: steve.macnaull@ok.bc.ca