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First-ever 'Naramata Bench Winterfest' goes this weekend

'Tis the season for regional winery zones to go all Christmas-y.

<who>Photo Credit: Chain Reaction Winery</who>

Last weekend it was the OK Falls/Skaha Lake Winery Association's annual "Holiday Cheer" event, where for four hours Saturday and another four Sunday, places like Noble Ridge, Black Market and Nighthawk wineries served up stuff like bonfires and miniature Christmas tree-making events to attract cold weather visitors.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from OK Falls "Holiday Cheer" last weekend

This upcoming Saturday and the following weekend, the wineries, cideries and distilleries of Summerland present the 2023 version their own long-running winter celebration, Light Up The Vines.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from Light Up The Vines 2022

But what about the biggest winery zone locally and the closest to Penticton? Why doesn’t the Naramata Bench have a seasonal thing?

Now it does. It's called "Naramata Bench Winterfest," and the very first edition of it will unfold this weekend, Nov. 24th and 25th.

The initiative was spearheaded by two of the newer kids on the block, Linda and Joel Chamaschuk of Chain Reaction Winery.

<who>Photo Credit: Chain Reaction Winery</who> The Chain Reaction gang

The Chamaschuks moved to the Okanagan from the lower mainland in 2017, buying an orchard on the Bench that they'd ultimately turn into Chain Reaction. And now they’re out to inject a little more life into the Bench's winter doldrums.

"Naramata is quite sleepy when it comes to doing events," laughed Linda Chamaschuk when we chatted last week. "So we’ve been thinking for a long time that we need to have a similar kind of event (to Light up the Vines and Holiday Cheer) out here."

According to the Chamaschuks, they contacted every winery, cidery and distillery they could find.

Nineteen venues are now participating.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from OK Falls "Holiday Cheer" last weekend

"Last year harvest was so late and so crazy and we ran out of time to organize this," said Chamaschuk. "But this year with harvest being a little earlier, we figured we could do it."

The event is unabashedly modeled after Light Up The Vines.

"They're all doing tastings," said Chamaschuk. "And they might offer special tastings or complimentary tastings.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from Light Up The Vines 2019

"It's really up to each one what they'll do, but the idea is to put up Christmas lights and decorations and maybe offer food or other perks. At Chain Reaction, we’re offering pulled pork sandwiches for sale, while others are doing wine pairings with small bites, s'mores outside on the fire or something else."

The Chamaschuks say the event will run 3 pm to 7 pm both Nov. 24 and Nov 25. But they advise that those hours may differ slightly from venue to venue.

For the best, most recent information on what's happening where and when during the first annual Naramata Bench Winterfest, head to the event website here.

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