Naramata Magic: A Guide to This Okanagan Valley Town and Wine Region, Plus Recipes


Embrace the soul of the Okanagan Valley town of Naramata with these must-see stops and stays. Photo: laughingmango/Getty Images

It feels as if there is a perceptible shift in atmospheric pressure as you enter the tiny town of Naramata on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake. There’s certain lightness to the air, adding lift to the intoxicating scents and endless vistas of valley and lake that make the Okanagan region so intoxicating.

Locals say there’s magic in Naramata, but I chalk it up to the wine. After tasting at a dozen wineries in the southern interior of British Columbia over several days, I ended my tour in this little town a 15-minute drive north of the city of Penticton, and fell in love.

Naramata Bench is the wine appellation (a legally designated wine-growing region) that extends from Penticton Creek in the south to the Okanagan Mountain Park in the north, a 250-hectare (617-acre) swath of pristine farmland that slopes down to the lake and provides an ideal home for more than 40 wineries, as well as a growing number of microbrewers, cideries, distillers, bakers, beekeepers and farmers. 

In the town of Naramata, the food, the wine, the views and the vitality seem to be dialled up to 11, while the pace of this little community of about 1,100 people is set at a very agreeable 1.5. No wonder it’s one of just four Canadian towns recognized by Cittaslow, an offshoot of Italy’s slow food movement. The town was founded by developer J.M. Robinson in 1907, the same year he built the Naramata Inn, and there is some mystique around the origin of its name. Robinson boasted that it came to him during a seance, a popular social activity in the early 20th century.

This may well be Canada’s next great culinary destination, if Ned Bell and his wife, Kate Colley, have anything to do with it. The duo, with the support of business partners, bought the historic Naramata Inn just before the pandemic. While COVID-19 threw a wrench into their plans, the lull gave them time to forge bonds in the community and with the Syilx Nation, one of eight Okanagan First Nations. 

Although they want to put Naramata on the country’s culinary map, “it’s not an emergency,” says Bell, the former executive chef of Ocean Wise, the Vancouver-based non-profit that promotes ocean conservation. “One of the reasons we’re not in a rush is that Naramata isn’t in a rush. There’s authenticity here. We’re not just big-city rich people coming in to buy the place and change it. First off, we’re not rich. Great things come through time and consistency and execution, and they last longer.”

Bell, who was born in Penticton, is working with Syilx leaders to incorporate Indigenous heritage into the inn’s guest experience, and he is eager to embrace ingredients and culinary practices that are part of that knowledge. “The nation is open and supportive, but they are not in a rush as well. We’re on Mother Nature’s timeline.”

Respect for the land is a common thread among businesses that serve locals and visitors. After meeting some of the community’s visionaries and boosters, I’ve compiled a guide to help you embrace the soul of Naramata, should you choose to visit. And you should.


Ned Bell, co-owner and chef of Naramata Inn, with spot prawns. Photo: Kevin Clark


The Naramata Inn

Twelve charming rooms feature original mission-style appointments, updated with contemporary amenities. (Don’t worry, the Wi-Fi is terrific.) This season, the legendary wine bar was resurrected, reinvigorating the inn’s reputation as a hangout for local winemakers, growers and artisans. Bell’s hyper-local cuisine — “there’s no lemon for your Pellegrino,” he likes to say — changes daily, reflecting foraged goodies, garden treats and products from 40 local farms that he and his executive chef, Stacy Johnson, visit in person. The dining room deftly combines old and new, with dark wood accented by an aqua theme that melds seamlessly with the verdant grounds outside the doors. Sommelier Emily Walker synchronizes her wine choices beautifully, drawing on a deep inventory of B.C. and international bottles.

3625 1 St., Naramata; 778-514-5444,

Naramata General Store

This is the hub of the town — with a post office, recycling outlet, wine shop, delicatessen and a stock of local and imported sauces and condiments, as well as breads, pastries and other treats — where hungry locals come year-round for a soup-and-sandwich fix. The inventory of wines is impressive, and promises to grow after locals David and Cynthia Enns, former owners of Naramata’s Laughing Stock winery, purchased the store last year. The new owners plan to expand and modernize it, adding more space for local products and, thankfully, wine.

219 Robinson Ave., Naramata; 250-496-5450,

Bella Wines

This is the only winery on the bench focused entirely on sparkling wines. Jay Drysdale and Wendy Rose are active in NaramataSlow, promoting sustainable agriculture and winemaking with minimal intervention. Tasting events include “A Tour With Jay,” a 40-minute walk around the farm and vineyards, which “lets me get on my soap box to preach about farming and how we do things, and talk about unsustainable practices, and show people what chemicals do to the soil,” he says. Scraps from the tea room, breweries and restaurants are fed to the farm’s pigs. The philosophy here is to create natural wines through a complete vineyard ecosystem, which includes local plants used as cover crops among the vines and organic composting, all feeding into a healthy viticulture. 

4320 Gulch Rd., Naramata; 778-996-1829,


After tasting a dozen of Lindsay O’Rourke’s wines last fall, I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve loved every single wine poured at a winery. Her honesty and vision come through in some of the purest and most characterful wines — Pinot, Chardonnay, Semillon, Syrah, Merlot — I’ve ever tasted. Her dogs are lovely, and the views across vineyards toward Okanagan Lake are majestic. 

1050 Fleet Rd., Penticton; 778-476-7673,

Little Engine

These stellar wines are pushing the possibilities of Burgundian varieties — Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — on the bench. As in Burgundy, there are three tiers of wines — here they call them silver, gold and platinum — that express different aspects of hyper-local terroir, all of them delicious. The tasting room is a nice place to hang, with a bar for serious wine exploration along with plenty of cushy lounge space, both indoors and out, for more convivial indulgence. 

851 Naramata Rd., Penticton; 250-493-0033,

Just Baked Coffee Shop

Everyone comes here, every day, for baked goodies and locally roasted coffee. It’s where you get your morning news. 

244 Robinson Ave., Naramata; 250-809-2721

Neverland Tea Cottage

The original outlet is in Vancouver, but this recent addition to Naramata offers a full, high-tea service that is out of this world.

340 Robinson Ave., Naramata; 250-496-3900,

Grist Microbaker

Astute locals pre-order by Wednesday and pick up coveted sourdough loaves each Friday at the community centre. The flour in the Apple & Oat loaf is made with pomace — dehydrated apple pulp — from the Creek & Gully Cidery,

Sun n’ Sup Paddleboard Shop

When you hit the Okanagan Valley, you have to spend time on the lake, and this is the place to go for kayak or paddleboard rentals, or to take a class. Ask the staff anything about Naramata. They know it all. 

176 Robinson Ave., Naramata; 778-514-5594,

Shades of Linen

For men’s and women’s clothing designed and made on the premises, Diane Jensen is your new best friend. She’s been in business for more than 16 years, using natural fibres like linen and cotton to create comfy, casual shirts, pants and dresses. The Naramata Inn gets its table linens here.

156 Robinson Ave., Naramata; 250-496-4083

Abandoned Rail Brewing

This new family-owned brewery opened in spring on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, making it a great pit stop when you’re out for a hike or bike ride on the old rail corridor that passes through the Naramata Bench. The family grows their own barley, and most ingredients are sourced in B.C.

1220 Davenport Ave., Penticton; 778-476-7704,




Blossom Syrup Cocktail

Photo: Courtesy of Narmata Inn


What tastes more like spring than fresh flowers?  With so many fragrant blooms bursting this spring, it’s the perfect time to capture their perfumed flavours by turning the blossoms into a tasty syrup. Flower syrups add a hint of flavour to all kinds of dishes, and can be made with edible species such as roses, hibiscus, lavender, and chamomile.

Here in Naramata, elderflower blossoms are having a moment. Doesn’t a homemade Elderflower Blossom Gin Fizz feel like just the thing? Or maybe vanilla ice cream or cake topped with Elderflower Blossom Syrup. At Naramata Inn, Chef Ned and our team are inspired by eating great ingredients, sourced locally. This simple recipe will have you enjoying and sharing a “taste of your place,” as local as your own garden or backyard.

Yield: 1 1/3 cups of syrup


1 cup of elderflower blossoms (or your choice of edible flowers)
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar


1. Snip blossoms loose from the stem, and discard the rest. (If you’re using a larger flower, just use the petals.) Gently wash under cool water and set aside.

2. Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue stirring over heat until the liquid is thick, lightly-coloured and bubbling around the edges.

3. Remove from the heat, sprinkle flowers directly into the simple syrup, and leave to steep for a minimum of 30 minutes (and up to 24 hours). This is an ideal time to add other ingredients like vanilla, cinnamon, rosemary, cardamom, or citrus zest. Lemon is traditionally used with elderflowers.

4. Remove from heat, strain and allow mixture to cool. Syrup can be stored in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Serving Suggestions:

1. Create a signature cocktail — such as an Elderflower Blossom Gin Fizz.

2. Add to lemonade, iced tea, sparkling water or sparkling wine.

3. Flavour whipped cream, ice cream, or drizzle over a syrup cake.

Blossom Safety Tips:

1. Make sure the flower you’re using is edible for humans, and that no pesticides have been used on them.

2. Use only fresh flowers in good condition, with no signs of wilting, browning or disease.


Chef Ned’s Shrimp Caesar With Grilled Lemon

Photo: Kevin Clark


The first recipe I ever made as a 19-year-old culinary student was a Caesar salad dressing of roasted garlic and rosemary. My mother, brother, and sister loved it so much that I must have made it every week for a year after that. And now each time I smell the aroma of roasting garlic, it takes me right back. This shrimp Caesar salad pays homage to that exciting time in my life, when I was just starting to develop a reverence for great ingredients. It brings together the sweet tenderness of shrimp, the crunch of romaine hearts, and the zing and subtle caramelized notes of grilled lemons. 


Caesar vinaigrette



1 head garlic
3/4 cup cups olive oil (divided), plus extra for drizzling the garlic
1 sprig rosemary
2 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
1 oil-packed anchovy
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the top third off of the garlic head to expose the cloves. Set on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with a little of the olive oil. Wrap in the foil and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until cloves are soft.

2. Meanwhile, heat the 3/4 cup olive oil and the rosemary in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 20 minutes or until the rosemary is infused into the oil. Remove rosemary and discard.

3. Squeeze half the roasted garlic out of the papery skins into a blender or food processor. Add the vinegar, both mustards, anchovies, lemon zest and juice, and 1/2 cup of the rosemary oil (set aside the remaining 1/4 cup for the croutons). Stir in the olive oil mayo and season with the salt and pepper, adjusting to taste. Blend for about 1 minute until emulsified. (Dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Leftover roasted garlic can be added to any tasty mash.)





1/2 sourdough baguette or other artisan bread, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup rosemary oil (see above)
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2. In a bowl, brush the bread slices with rosemary oil until evenly coated.

3. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

4. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally to promote even browning, for 15 minutes or until golden. Tear into pieces.




4 oz Parmesan (divided)
1 lemon, halved
Olive oil, for brushing
2 romaine hearts, leaves separated
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 lb chilled pink shrimp (cooked and peeled)
8 white marinated anchovies, for garnish



1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Finely grate half the Parmesan. You should have about 1 cup. Spread it into a flat circle on the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool, and then peel off the paper and break the cheese crisp into pieces.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat (or preheat the grill). Brush the cut sides of the lemons with olive oil. Place cut side down onto the pan (or grill), and sear for 2 to 4 minutes or until caramelized and golden.

3. In a large bowl, toss the romaine and half the croutons with enough dressing to coat. Squeeze the caramelized lemons over the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss again.

4. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter. Arrange the shrimp and crispy Parmesan pieces on top. Shave the remaining Parmesan with a vegetable peeler and sprinkle over the salad. Garnish with the remaining croutons and anchovies.


Chef Ned’s Halibut Burger With Blueberry Relish

Chef-Ned’s-Mini-Dungeness-Crab-Tacos. Photo: Kevin Clark


When you’re craving a burger but don’t want a gut bomb, swap out the fatty beef for a thick fillet of halibut. It’s just as satisfying, and the mild fish is amenable to whatever flavors you want to throw at it. For this take, I slather the fillets in citrusy mayo and a sweet-savory blueberry relish that puts boring old ketchup to shame. I pile on a shaved fennel slaw for crunch.


Citrus mayo



2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of 2 limes
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups canola oil


1. In a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender), combine the eggs, egg yolks, mustard, lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper.

2. With the machine running, slowly add the oil in a thin steady stream until the mixture is emulsified and thickened and all the oil has been incorporated.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, or citrus if desired. Can be made ahead of time; will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Blueberry relish



2 tsp canola oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (divided)
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper


1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender and translucent.

2. Add 1 cup of the blueberries, honey, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Cook for 12 minutes or until saucy and the blueberries have broken down.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries. Set aside to cool. (Relish can be made and refrigerated several days ahead.)


Fennel slaw



1 bulb fennel, halved and core removed
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper


1. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the fennel paper thin.

2. Toss in a bowl with the oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Roasted halibut



4 (4 to 5 oz) skinless halibut fillets
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 lemon, halved
4 soft hamburger buns, to serve
4 butter lettuce leaves, to serve
4 dill pickles, halved lengthwise, to serve


1. Use paper towels to pat the fish dry, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. 

2. Carefully lay the fish in the pan. (If necessary, cook the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding, which will keep the fish from caramelizing properly.) Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; a golden crust will have formed on the flesh. 

3. Flip the fillets over and add the butter, the thyme, and a squeeze of lemon over each fish. Cook, basting with the buttery juices, for another 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and almost opaque all the way through. Transfer to a plate.

4. Assemble the burgers with a lettuce leaf and the fish, fennel slaw, and citrus mayo. Serve with blueberry relish and a dill pickle.


Chef Ned’s Mini Dungeness Crab Tacos

Photo: Kevin Clark


Quick, simple, and bursting with flavor, these mini crab tacos are serious crowd-pleasers. They can go from game-day snack to cocktail party nibble with ease. The light and crispy shells are made with deep-fried wonton wrappers, which perfectly showcase the tender flesh of Dungeness crab. The average crab yields about half a pound of meat (about 1 1/2 cups), so you’ll just need one crab for this dish. It’s far cheaper to cook and pick your own crab. But if time is of the essence, and your budget doesn’t allow for already picked crabmeat, try substituting shrimp, wild salmon, albacore, lingcod, or really any fish you like.


Taco shell



12 round gyoza or wonton wrappers
Canola oil, for deep-frying


1. Heat several inches of oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, Dutch oven, or deep-fryer to 340 F.

2. Place a wrapper in a taco shell maker and gently lower it into the oil. Cook for 30 seconds or until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. (Alternatively, shape a piece of aluminum foil into a thick rectangle and drape the wrapper over it. Use tongs to hold the wrapper onto the foil as you lower it into the oil. Continue holding it in place until it’s done.)





1/2 lb (about 1 1/2 cups) crabmeat, from 1 (2 to 3 lb) Dungeness or snow crab
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp olive oil
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
About 1/4 cup Miso Maple Lime Vinaigrette (page XX [77])
3 radishes, thinly sliced, for garnish
3/4 cup radish sprouts, for garnish
Shichimi Togarashi, to sprinkle (see Note)
Lime wedges, to serve


1. To steam the crab and extract the meat from the legs and main shell. 

2. Cut each avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Using a fork, coarsely mash the avocado with the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put spoonfuls onto serving plates.

3. Stuff about 2 tablespoons of the crabmeat into each taco shell, and set them into the mashed avocado, which will help hold them upright. Top with a little vinaigrette and garnish with the radishes and radish sprouts. Add dots of vinaigrette around the plate. 

4. Sprinkle with a pinch of Shichimi Togarashi. Serve the tacos with lime wedges on the side, and instruct guests to scoop up a little of the avocado with every taco.

Chef’s note: Shichimi Togarashi is a popular Japanese spice blend and table condiment that is made of coarse ground red chili, sansho (a type of Japanese pepper), roasted orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, hemp seed, ground ginger, and nori. It is available at Asian markets.



Poached Wild B.C. Spot Prawns, Last Summer’s Naramata Peaches, Verjus Vinaigrette, Foraged Sumac Aioli 

Photo: Kevin Clark


Poached Wild BC Spot Prawns



2 lbs of fresh live B.C. spot prawns 


1. Have a bowl of ice water ready to put the spot prawns in when they come out of the boiling water 

2. Remove the heads of the prawns 

3. In a medium sized pot of boiling water, drop the prawns in the water for 20 seconds 

4. Quickly remove and immediately put the prawns in the ice water bath 

5. Peel the prawns, and they set aside, keep chilled.


Foraged Naramata Sumac Aioli



3 egg yolks
1 cup of canola oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp foraged Naramata sumac
½ tsp Vancouver Island sea salt 


1. Whisk together the egg yolks, the Dijon mustard and then slowly add the canola oil

2. Add the salt and the Sumac with will add a tangy sour flavour to the aioli


Naramata Peach Jam (housemade) 

We make our own preserves and jams with the best of the season (rhubarb, cherries, raspberries, apricots, peaches, plums, apples, pears). Any of these fruit preserves would work well.


Verjus Vinaigrette 

We make our own verjus from the unripe green grapes for from thinning the vines at Lightning Rock Vineyards. 


3/4 cup verjus (you could use white wine or apple cider vinegar)
1.5 cup canola oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup Naramata Honey (Desert Flower)
1 tbsp Vancouver Island Sea Salt 


1. Whisk together the dijon, the Verjus and the honey 

2. Add the canola oil, add the salt.

Serve the poached B.C. spot prawns with the peach jam, the sumac aioli and the verjus vinaigrette, a simple green salad and some of your favourite  sourdough bread. Enjoy! 

Excerpted from Lure by Ned Bell and Valerie Howes. Photographs by Kevin Clark. Copyright 2017 by Chefs for Oceans, recipes copyright by Ned Bell. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.