Our first Park ’n Ride session takes us to the renowned Naramata Bench wine region, a sub-region of the Okanagan (AKA “Napa of the North), and a place Fox News described as “The best wine region you’ve never heard of.” The Bench is a narrow stretch of land perched a few hundred feet above Okanagan Lake, a massive fresh water lake 135 km in length located in South Central British Columbia, just 80 km from the Washington State border. The Bench is a little gem-of-a-destination that has something for everyone. Foodies and wine lovers come for the idyllic vineyards and boutique wineries & eateries; sun seekers and families enjoy the hot summer weather, sandy beaches and warm water; and sports enthusiasts come for the hiking and biking the local mountains have to offer.
The Bench stretches between the town of Naramata to the North, a sleepy hamlet with almost no services, and Penticton to the South, a much larger centre with a population of 30,000. Points of interest are densely packed along the 15 km strip, including nearly 40 wineries where you can wet your whistle with a crisp sauvignon blanc or enjoy a wood oven pizza. It’s hard to imagine a better way to explore the Bench than on the seat of an electric bike.
The wineries are a bit too far apart and the terrain too hilly to make walking practical. Biking without power assist is certainly possible, but you’ll probably show up to the next tasting looking a little overheated. Another nice thing about electric assist is that you can load up your basket with a few bottles to take home, or since you’ve come all this way, grab a few cases and throw ‘em in the trailer. No sweat.
There are lots of B & B’s in the area so setting up a home base from which to explore is easy. We were lucky enough to spend a few days staying with good friends that own the Tightrope Winery located mid-way between Naramata and Penticton, and one of 24 wineries that make up the Naramata Bench Wineries Association. It just so happens that Tightrope is just a few hundred metres away from 3 Mile Beach – once home to nudists from near and far – where you can cool off with a dip in Okanagan Lake, a nice perk in a region that can see temperatures nearing 100 degrees. The Lake is also a nice perk should you choose to bike 100+ km along the Kettle Valley Railway… in the blazing hot sun… wearing flip flops. But that story will have to wait.
Since he was a kid, Dave has been building, riding, crashing, customizing, touring and generally having good, clean fun on all kinds of bikes.