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Bench 1775

Val Tait

Val Tait

General Manager & Winemaker

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.”

Julia Cannings


Domestic Sales Manager

Growing up in Naramata, Julia developed a love and appreciation of agriculture and wine. While completing her B.A. in English and French Literature, Julia began summer work in the wine industry to compliment her school scheduling and work as a teacher in the years following. Although it was a position as an English Instructor that first brought her back to Penticton full-time, a love of Naramata and wine won out and brought her to Bench 1775 for a permanent position.

As Domestic Sales Manger Julia oversees all Bench 1775, Paradise Ranch and Whistler wine sales within Canada whether it be in the Tasting Room, restaurants or retailers. Because of her teaching background, Julia finds endless enjoyment in introducing people to the world of wine and BC terrior. Being an Okanagan girl, Julia always finds time to spend outdoors with her husband (and fellow Bench 1775 staffer) Brandon and their dog Nibbler as well as going for paddles on the lake and of course lots of wine tasting.

Tina Ma

Tina Ma

International Sales Manager /

Enthusiastic Tina came all the way from China. She completed her Bachelor's 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, communications and customer service, Tina adds incredible value to Bench 1775 and she is our key to bringing 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.”

Leanna Liu

Leanna Liu

Marketing Manager

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 manages the entire Bench 1775 social network sites.

She holds a bachelor's degree in Film & Television Screenwriting from Communication University of China and a Master's 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 the marketing & social media industry to Bench 1775 Winery.

Yaxin Ma

Yaxin Ma

Accounting Manager

Yaxin brings nearly three decades of finance and business experience to her role as accounting manager for Bench 1775. Yaxin oversees Bench 1775's critical accounting functions, including accounts receivable and payable, payroll, banking, and revenue forecasting.

"I extremely love the view of our winery but I regret that I am not able to taste our lovely wines as I am allergic to alcohol. However, all of my friends are happy that I help them find great wines with reasonable prices. I hope I can contribute my accounting skills to Bench 1775 and grow with the team." says Yaxin.

Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith

Assistant General Manager

Shannon helps manage the administration of the winery and enjoys the challenge of a broad range of responsibilities. Shannon grew up on a cattle ranch in Central Australia. She caught the travel bug in her early 20’s and decided that was a preferable education to finishing her psychology degree. After spending a year volunteering in the Philippines, Shannon fell into the wine industry by taking a harvest job as a cellarhand at Mollydooker Wines in South Australia. Since then, she has followed her nose working 6 vintages in Australia, New Zealand, France & Canada. A Canadian winemaker stole her heart & now she hikes, bikes & skis herself happy in the Okanagan.

Emily Serre de St. Jean

Emily Serre de St. Jean

Tasting Room & Wine Club Manager /

Emily works hard to ensure her team provides a welcoming & educational guest experience in our Tasting Room. Twice a year, she also dons her Wine Club Manager hat & headlamp and delves in the Bench 1775 library for special releases and rare finds. Emily grew up in southern Ontario and made the move out west with her family 10 years ago. A Red Seal Baker by trade, she regularly spoils the team with delicious baked goods for birthdays and special occasions. Emily was content with her industrious early mornings & sugar-coated life until she discovered Canada’s best kept secret – Okanagan wine! Two years later, Emily is thoroughly enjoying her journey into the world of wine and learning as much as she can by immersing herself in the BC wine industry. She has an ambitious bucket list of wine destinations to experience, having ticked New Zealand and the USA off already. Emily, her partner & 3 cats have made the South Okanagan their home and on her days off you can catch her wine tasting, gardening or dangling from a bungee cord in Whistler!

Jesci Parsons

Jesci Parsons

Administration & Operations Assistant

Jesci’s role at the winery is to ensure that each department has everything they need and that no call goes unanswered. On any given day you can find her smiling face greeting you at reception, in the tasting room, up a ladder, on the bottling line or even picking icewine. Jesci has lived in the South Okanagan for the better part of her life and chose to raise her two children, Kayla and Hunter, in her hometown of Penticton. During the first portion of Jesci’s career, she worked as a community support worker in Penticton, but in 2017 she decided a fresh start was in order and turned her attention to the wine industry. Jesci is a passionate athlete and volunteer and has completed Ironman Canada twice as well as volunteering for Ride 2 Survive for many years.

Lindsay Shi

Lindsay Shi

Social Media Manager

Lindsay holds a BSc in Food, Nutrition and Health from the University of British Columbia. Lindsay took wine science courses during her studies, which sparked her interest in wine. After completing her studies, Lindsay joined Bench 1775 Winery as Marketing and Social Media Coordinator and worked with Leanna to manage our social media network and national marketing, “My job at Bench 1775 fits perfectly with my love of wine and food!”

In 2018, Lindsay became Social Media Manager and is now responsible for website content management, copywriting, photography and social media growth. Lindsay is passionate about healthy eating and wellness. She hopes to bring her wine science knowledge, behind-the-scenes activities of wine making and food pairing suggestions to Bench 1775 wine lovers.


Have you heard the news? We were recently named in the TOP 8 WINERIES IN CANADA, and the TOP 4 WINERIES IN BC at the 2018 National Wine Awards of Canada!  

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