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Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

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Legend Distilling

Naramata – Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart

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Old Main Road

Literally at the end of the road lies one of the most unexpectedly delightful places in the world. The temptation is to keep the discovery a secret. Fortunately Naramatians are too sociable and ardent about their home not to share and bloggers can’t keep any secret at all.

A trip along Naramata Road toward the Village is a sensory experience whose end result is an extraordinary sense of well-being. The scientists have gone to work and come up with a formula for scenery that most appeals to people (they study everything right?) and the Naramata Benchlands ticks all the boxes. It’s to do with the proportion of sky, the straight lines of the vineyards and orchards and the expanse of the blue lake grounding it all.

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Travelling through a winescape of row upon row of trellised grapevines dotted with sympathetically designed winery architecture and guest accommodation, the road twists and turns to reveal new vistas. Scientists tells us that we like making discoveries and the “I wonder what’s around the next corner?” feeling we get when heading from Penticton to Naramata fits the bill. The vines and orderly orchards advance across rolling hills that all lead down to the shores of Okanagan Lake and the elevation of Naramata Road lets us appreciate it all.

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Hillside Winery

Once lured in by the scenery it’s what Naramatians have produced from this naturally gifted growing region moderated by the lake that adds the next layer to our pleasure. Naramata’s artisanal products are lovingly produced by people whose lives are devoted to their craft whether it be wine, spirits, fruits and vegetables, pottery or painting and they revel in sharing this passion. Wine and culinary experiences are top-notch and varied but all share a similar philosophy. Skill and a light touch are used to let the ultra-premium, local, in-season ingredients shine.

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Lunch with scenery at Legend Distilling.

The village itself has lost all track of time. No traffic lights, no chain stores, few streetlights to blot out the stars, Naramata is made up of quiet streets with a mix of cottages and modest houses with well-kept gardens. A little church with bells that ring at noon, a general store shaded by elms, artisans and shops sprinkled here and there, cozy restaurants, the world’s best pizza place, a welcoming coffee shop, busy pub… Anchoring the Village, the perfectly in-keeping  Heritage Inn sits and the end of the main street, as it has for more than a century.

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Heritage Inn

Naramata’s quality and human pace of life is internationally recognized. We have been given the designation as a Cittaslow town. Cittaslow towns celebrate life in the slow lane, locally grown products and the slow food movement, in places where people care for the land and for each other.

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View of the Village from the Kettle Valley Railway trail.

Based in the Tuscany region of Italy, the Cittaslow network and accredited communities have a mandate to improve the quality of life. It’s karma that we have this Italian designation. Our town’s founder, John Moore Robinson produced a brochure in 1907 calling Naramata, with its wonderful climate, the Italy of Canada.

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Apple orchards are still a lovely part of the Old Main Estate in the Village.

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As part of the Cittaslow philosophy, I’m working to bring local chefs into the Village to teach us how to use all the lovely produce (like the raspberries from our Carpe Diem berry farm) to bake and cook for our friends, families and the many guests who have come to love our secret place.

The first guest Chef, Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering is an Okanagan superstar. She is going to show us why we need brioche in our lives. CC Orchards will be providing sweet dried cherries for use as one of our brioche ingredients.

Tickets to the December 10 class are half sold and I’m thrilled with the response from the Village about the new venture. Here’s the link to join in Naramata Blend Cooking Class Series Brioche!  A second class on eclairs and profiteroles is in the works for February…

Bird’s eye look at Carpe Diem berry farm

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This is my hood for context. Preserved Light is an amazing photography company.

This is a part of our farm in our first year of production with some blueberry picking happening. Can’t wait until next year when our crop should triple. Thank you to our lovely customers at Legend Distilling where our raspberries are happily at home in their Farm Berry Vodka, Nummer’s Gourmet, where they are baked into nummy treats and the Bench Market that sold them fresh or incorporated in their fruit salads.

Legend Distilling, “I’ve got a bad case of lovin’ you”

IMG_6888No more crinkly paper gowns but the, “take a deep breath in” still happens when you open the door of my former doctor’s office now gloriously morphed into a craft distillery.

Passionate about their art, Dawn and Doug Lennie happily share an hour of spirit making show and tell. The husband and wife team bought the doctor’s office a couple of years ago to distill artisanal vodka and gin in small batches infusing them with fresh BC-grown fruit, nuts and herbs. Their latest addition, Legend Lounge, is helping locals pass time in winter with its cozy fireplace, tapas (onion soup, wild mushroom pate with crackers and house pickles, hot artichoke and kale dip with taco chips…), cocktails (of course) and a selection of Naramata wines and local craft beers.

IMG_6884Captain Nemo-looking gleaming copper and steel stills differentiate a tasting experience at Legend Distilling from a visit to the many Naramata wineries along the Bench. “After our first full season I’m really happy with the traffic and the response from our visitors,” Dawn says. “I think people are finding us a refreshing change.”

IMG_6881On trend, Legend Distilling is one of only a handful of distilleries in the Okanagan and a perfect addition to the Valley’s burgeoning foodie culture and its longer winery history. Fun branding playing on the distillery’s doctor’s office past and its legend’s theme is hitting the right note as are its contemporary and unique flavour profiles.

The couple opened with a few offerings and have gradually added new spirits such as Defender Island Smoked Rosemary Gin and Slowpoke Farmberry and liqueurs like Blasted Brew Spiked Coffee and Manitou Orange Sumac Liqueur to its flights. Next on the horizon…whisky. Doug shows me his coddled whisky aging in different types of barrels a mere two years away from savourability.

IMG_6879A crew is bottling Shadow in the Lake Vodka, one of its original offerings, on the day of my visit. The bottles are so unique that they are worth keeping when the smooth, full-bodied vodka with subtle notes of vanilla and carmel is all gone. Too bad I can’t capture the wonderful aroma of the vodka as its bottled.

Legend Distilling’s setting on Naramata Road is as spectacular as its libations. “During demo of the building Doug took a break and sat outside to watch the sun set. He came home after that saying we had to change all the plans and add on some more space. We needed to move the tasting room to the back of the building to take advantage of the view and access to the patio. We stretched the budget but it was worth it.”

Good call. I took this photo this past Thanksgiving from the patio.

IMG_6440And my sister-in-law Mel, took this one of the tasting room window on her Thanksgiving visit from Toronto.11224397_10153878599347985_2313354585742353493_oWhile our turkey was cooking in our wood-fired oven a five-minute walk away, we spent a perfect hour on the patio with family.IMG_6452 My Legendary Caesar lived up to its name.

To keep our spirits up before the sun returns in full force and we can move to the patio again, Dawn shared her recipe for a favourite hot winter drink:

Manitou Coffee

  • 1 oz Blasted Brew Spiked Coffee
  • 1/2 oz Orange Sumac Liqueur
  • In a pour over, placed over glass add…
    • 5 tablespoons ground coffee
    • 6 oz hot water (3/4 cup)
  • Top with whip cream, a coffee bean and fresh nutmeg

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