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Meet Shana! She learned the art of artisanal cheesemaking and now has created Upper Bench Blue, Brie, and washed-rind cheeses! She's born in Nova Scotia and arrived in BC in 1995.
Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
My husband Gavin, he is my bestie
What is your favourite local store in Penticton and why?
This is a tough one! So many to choose from. Front Street Brasserie, The Bench Market, Tacos Del Norte is a staff favourite "fiesta Friday"!
Describe yourself in one word.
If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
Italy - I've never been and we just employed a young lady who speaks Italian, I could listen to her all day! Plus we just completed our certification for Neapolitan pizza. We will be firing up our 6' pizza oven this spring. Wine, Cheese and now Pizza!
What is your favourite activity in Penticton?
A glass of wine at Mile Zero, a cold pint at the Cannery, walking the dogs along the channel parkway then brunch at the Bench Market. Also wine touring, so much fun along the Naramata Bench.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
Too many to count, I'm a bit of a nerd.
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
That is a good, but tough question. For me inspiration comes from the success of others in the Okanagan. The Okanagan is a tough place to make a living. You have to work hard, very hard. I love seeing others succeed, hearing the stories of struggle to success, it's inspiring. If they can, I can. If I can, anyone can. I also find it very inspiring to see what we've built over the last 7 years. We've built a strong brand in Upper Bench, we make fantastic award winning wines & cheese (and just last year added a Pizza Oven). We also have the best staff who we love to see prosper as we are able to offer them full time year round employment. We are thankful for the support of our community, our locals keep us going year round. We couldn't be happier or more thankful. Thank you Penticton!!
Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
My Ma bought an old farmhouse on the North mountain in Annapolis Valley. It had no plumbing & no electricity but what adventures we had. My brother and I would spend our days splashing in tidal pools, fishing, collecting mussels for the dinner. When it was cold our parents would heat up rocks in the fireplace and put them in socks to warm our beds. My Ma would make me warm milk (which I think is where I first fell in love with cheesemaking, I still love the smell of warming milk) it was truly the best experience ever.
Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
These days we are pretty busy with the winery and our volunteering isn't what it used to be. We are supporters of AlleyCats Alliance and I sit on the Naramata Bench Wineries Association while Gavin my husband sits on Naramata Sub GI committee. When our kids were younger we were involved with the school PAC, Park and Recreation and Gavin was a volunteer Firefighter for close to 7 years. The people of the Okanagan are super supportive of their community and are always willing to help out when they can.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
Gosh! That's a tough one, but I'm going for equality & peace for all.
Where would you sneak away to in Penticton to spend some time alone?
A hike up Carmi to catch the view and perhaps some wildlife.
Where would you like to see positive change in Penticton and why?
Great question, thank you for the opportunity to answer. I feel young people are not given a fair chance and or not encouraged to stay in Penticton. I hear many have to leave as they can't find year round employment or an affordable place to live year round. Our young people are who help us succeed. They were born and raised here and shouldn't have to leave. It is up to us to help them stay in this beautiful place we all love to call home. We also have to provide affordable housing where they can't get evicted for the summer.
What do you think makes Penticton great?
What are 3 things on your bucket list?
1.Climbing at Hoodoo Adventures and then heading to the Cannery for a beer.
2.Floating down the channel with the entire Upper Bench Crew
3.Kayaking on lake Okanagan
Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I'm a closet Survivor fan!
How do people connect with you, personally, through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
What is the name of your business/organization?
Upper Bench Winery & Creamery
Why did you get into/start this business?
Both my husband and I worked for others and wanted to work for ourselves, build the dream!
What is the goal of your business?
Succeed, be happy, provide a good lifestyle for our employees. Be happy.
What has been your biggest struggle either at work or in life?
Finding time for myself. I find it impossible, but I'm trying.
If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
I don't believe in looking back. I wouldn't change a thing. I like hard work, I find it very rewarding.
What do you always find yourself saying?
"I say I have to go cut the cheese" and I do get funny looks!
Tell us your best piece of life advice.
Don't hold grudges, let go of anger. I've only just got to this point and I'm 48 :) It does work and it feels great.
If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
It may sound cliché, but it would be my best friend & husband Gavin. We've been married for 22 years, met here in Penticton (on Pickering Street). We work, play and live together. He makes me laugh, loves me like no other and supports and encourages me every single day. He's pretty darn good looking too. I love him and our life very much.
Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
It is our community, we have to encourage & support it.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Building Upper Bench & raising our two amazing, independent, incredible daughters!
Give someone you think that deserves it a shout out and explain why!
David Haywood. Of Haywood Design & Build. Because they work hard to get where they are going and I'm excited for their success.
In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition of the people, businesses, and organizations that help make our city great. Thank you, Penticton!