If you haven’t been to the Naramata Bench, you might not know what you’re missing. This wine region has become a destination for outstanding wines, incredible landscapes and a tranquil way of living. Just 45 minutes south of Kelowna, lies a rich tapestry of both agriculture and history, as well as a warm opening of hearts. At Hillside Winery & Bistro, you can leave the city behind and experience a slower more beautiful look at life.
The journey begins on the outskirts of Penticton as you follow the graceful curves of Naramata Road, beneath the warm sunshine, aside the breathtaking vineyard and lake views you can’t help but leave the hectic urban life behind.
On arrival, you get the sense you are in the heart of wine country as guests leisurely make their way along the garden path to the quaint and charming tasting room, which offers the warmest of welcomes.
Kick back in the adjoining Bistro situated perfectly in sunlight as you soak in the shimmering Okanagan Lake. Hillside offers not only beautiful scenery and exceptional wine and food, but also a fascinating pioneer history unique from the other wineries in the region.
In 1979, the property was purchased by Vera and Bohumir Klokocka who had recently immigrated to the Okanagan Valley from Czechoslovakia. Vera had a dream. In 1984 she planted the first of Hillside’s estate vineyards. The grapevines thrived in the gravelly soil and warm Okanagan sunshine and Vera’s dream took shape. By 1989, Hillside became one of the first Farmgate wineries in the Okanagan Valley as Vera lobbied toward changing policy for small wineries at that time. She was instrumental in shaping the B.C. wine industry as we know it today.
Hillside remains true to its heritage by producing wines made with 100 percent Naramata Bench grapes. At the helm of this small-batch and hand crafted approach to wine making is gifted winemaker Kathy Malone.
“It has been our commitment since our inception to produce hand-crafted, naturally fruit-forward, well-balanced wines that represent the true character of the grapes. Our uniquely designed winery allows us to ferment and age the wine in many small batches to maintain the varietal character and integrity of each grape type and vineyard,” says Kathy.
While this process can be challenging, the hard working folks at Hillside are bent to stay the course, regardless of effort.
Jody Schwindt, sales and marketing manager, is also firmly planted in this commitment. “Kathy has a such a great understanding of the unique conditions of the Naramata Bench, which allows us to ‘own our dirt’ and express our
“Our guests will find we have a unique approach to life out here. It is a slower way of being, a life meant to be savoured. Our food is gourmet, but made for sharing. We want our guests to relax, get lost in the region and allow their minds to go back in time,” she says.
It is a sensory experience being onsite, a feeling, and an emotional draw that makes you want to be part of something that has withstood time. It is a tribute to the pioneering spirit of the woman who came to Canada and had a vision.
Loosen your tie, leave your heels at home and satisfy a longing you didn’t even know you had; Hillside Winery & Bistro is a gracious winery built on respect for its people and the land beneath your feet. Nourish your body with sustainably grown produce, 100 percent Naramata wine and an aura of goodness.