Val oversees the Bench 1775 vineyards, winery operations, and guest experience. With wineries like Poplar Grove, Painted Rock and Mission Hill on her resume, Val brings a wealth of viticulture and winery experience to Bench 1775. And it was love at first sight for Val as well: “It’s so beautiful here. What really caught my imagination was this mind-blowing property with a spectacular deck and fantastic beach.”
Quality wine starts in the vineyard and Val's background in viticulture gives Bench 1775 expertise from the ground up. Analytical and technical skills were developed from an education in Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from Simon Fraser University and Oenology and Viticulture from UC Davis. Bench 1775 currently produces approximately 7,000 cases of table wine per year, and Val has set her sights on expanding and invigorating the existing vineyard program. Also in her sights is the Tasting Room & Patio at Bench 1775. “We want to over-deliver on quality while keeping our prices affordable,” Val claims. “And, I’d like it to be fun: a place for people to enjoy great wine, food, music and a fantastic view - a quintessential Okanagan experience.”
Sonja Lloyd (a.k.a. Beaker, Bubbles, Canadian Sonja) has worked in quality control and laboratory analysis at Bench 1775 since October 2013. As a member of the winemaking team she monitors wines from fruit development through fermentation and into the bottle. Sonja is also one of the Bench 1775 representatives at tasting events throughout the Okanagan and Lower Mainland and is involved in most aspects of winery operations including in the vineyards, warehouse, bottling line, wine shop and office.
Sonja has always enjoyed drinking wine and is now excited to be making wine. A lifelong learner, Sonja has studied Wines of Italy and Sensory Evaluation of Wine at Okanagan College and continues her to develop her palate in informal tasting groups. With a PhD in microbiology from Washington State University, Sonja is a fan of all fermented foods from kim chee to yogurt to wine and especially beer - when it’s enjoyed after a hike, bike ride or while reading a good book.
Growing up in Naramata, Julia developed a love and appreciation of agriculture and wine. After completing her B.A. in English and French Literature, Julia began summer work in the wine industry to compliment her teaching work during the school year. Although she first taught in Quebec, a position at South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services drew her back home to the South Okanagan.
As tasting room manager, Julia oversees the daily operations of the tasting room, our front-of-house staff and tasting events. Because of her teaching background, Julia loves introducing people to the world of wine and Okanagan terroir. With a balance of teaching ESL in the morning and being at the winery in the afternoon, Julia still finds lots of time to spend with her partner Brandon and dog Nibbler as well as going for paddles on the lake, playing board games and of course wine tasting.
Andrea moved to the Okanagan in 2005 and immediately fell in love with Naramata and its wine community. Beginning her career in the Tasting Room, Andrea moved through many parts of the winery including vineyard, cellar and administration/accounting. This hands-on experience was a great way to learn about the entire process of wine and it gave her a great respect for all of the hard work that goes into the wine. From the farmers all the way to the smiling face handing you your glass, there is such a rich community of passionate, well-educated, hard-working, dedicated people behind each bottle, which is Andrea’s favourite part about wine.
After working in the wine industry for 9 years she was invited to be a part of the amazing Bench 1775 team. In her role as Wine Club Manager, she is able to express her passion for sharing the beauty and romance of Naramata Bench wine, terroir, food and people with the rest of Canada. “People are always in awe of our beautiful home and world-class wines. The looks on their faces remind me every day of when I fell in love with the Okanagan and its delicious wines.”
Enthusiastic Tina came all the way from China. She completed her Bachelor degree in international trade in China then an M.B.A. from New York State University in 2003 and finally settled down at Vancouver, Canada in 2007. With many years experience in sales, management, administration, contract negotiating, inventory controlling, logistics, communication, customer service, Tina adds incredible value to Bench 1775 and she is our key person to bring our wines to wine lovers globally.
“I’m so proud to tell our customers that we have the best view you have ever seen and we make the best wines. It is such a pleasure to be part of the Bench 1775 family, growing with the winery and great people here.”
Simone brings a wealth of experience to Bench 1775 ranging from vineyard work to winemaking. After graduating from the Winery and Viticulture Program at Niagara College, Simone has spent nine vintages as a travelling winemaker working at premium international wineries such as Leeuwin Estates and Grosset Winery in Australia and Domaine Fernand et Laurent Pillot in Burgundy. Closer to home, she trained with Tawse Estates in Ontario, learned to fuse old and new world Pinot Noir in Oregon and further developed her winemaking and cellar management skills at Meyer Family Vineyard in Okanagan Falls.
Simone’s role as lead cellar hand is to ensure Bench 1775 wines are made to the highest standards possible and that cellar operations from grape processing to bottling are clean and efficient. Her favorite aspects of winemaking are barrel work, midnight ice wine crushes and blending aromatic whites. Raised on a farm in Ontario, Simone learned from young age the value of hard work on the job and at home where she is an avid gardener, dog lover and home beer brewmaster. Simone’s goals here at Bench are to support and maintain our exceptional reputation as well as continuing to produce award winning wines. Cheers mate!
Pamela is a key grape counter for Bench 1775. She brings a great love of wine to her job. When she was 18, she studied in Montpellier, France where she discovered the world of wine all around her in the Languedoc region. After a degree in Urban planning and then a Certified Management Accountant designation, Pamela worked for CA and law firms for many years. But the lure of small business and working with entrepreneurs won out as she loves working with vibrant young companies. Bench 1775 fits the bill perfectly.
"What a fabulous and challenging industry to be associated with, from the first break of the bud to the harvest to production to seeing a visitor in the wine shop enjoying a glass of our wine. Each day seems to bring a new challenge as our team strives to be efficient and proactive. I am proud to be part of the Bench 1775 team. Did I also mention that I am more than happy to test any of our wines! "
Originally from Beijing, China, Leanna joined Bench 1775 Winery as the Marketing & Social Media manager in 2014. With expertise in social media, advertising, graphic design and search engine optimization, she managed the entire Bench 1775 social network sites.
She holds a bachelor degree in Film & Television Screenwriting from Communication University of China and a Master degree in Digital Media Management from Northeastern University, Massachusetts. After completing her studies, Leanna moved to Vancouver and discovered her passion for the wine business. Leanna is excited to bring experience in all facets of marketing & social media industry to Bench 1775 Winery.
We were thrilled to receive the TOP 10 BEST PERFORMING SMALL WINERIES IN CANADA from the 2016 National Wine Awards of Canada!
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