February 26, 2013 – Township 7 Vineyards & Winery
2011 View of Naramata Wine Shop
Sometimes you take neighbours for granted and it’s only when you view them through new filters that you learn to celebrate how truly great it is to have them just down the road from your house. That’s how it was for me and the great folks of Township 7 Vineyards & Winery.
Conveniently located on the Naramata Bench just before my mailbox and the road home, Township 7 was a winery that I’d quickly pop into to grab a bottle of wine to accompany our dinner. We consistently enjoyed what we bought yet I never really took the time for a proper tasting and to get to know more about it.
It wasn’t until I started contributing to Savour Magazine as a freelance writer that I got invited to a wonderful media tour with the Penticton & Wine Country Tourism with the Naramata Bench Winery Association that I truly appreciated the gold mine of wineries in my area. I fell in love with the wineries, the wines and especially the people behind them. In the Fall 2011 Savour, my story “The Magic of Naramata Bench: One of Canada’s Highest Concentration of Diverse Wineries” was published. I was delighted to provide the wineries involved a bit of profile while I was torn by the reality of publishing that you only have limited words with which to work. There was so much more I could have said about each one.
At the time, about this particular winery I wrote: “The two-site Township 7 Vineyards & Winery (township7.com) is B.C.’s only urban and rural winery – South Langley, 2001 and Naramata, 2003. Proprietor since 2006, Mike Raffan, who left a two-decade successful restaurant career, has added cultural and culinary experiences including art shows, live music/theatre, charity fundraisers, wine seminars, community grape harvest/stomps and winemaker dinners with Lori Pike-Raffan. In the wine shop, along with the award-winning Township 7 selections by winemaker Bradley Cooper, you can find Brad’s own label Black Cloud.”
And I went on to point out: “That’s another of the attributes of the Naramata wine mavericks. While there’s healthy competition, there is a camaraderie that recognizes where one succeeds all benefit.” (Note: My winery each week posting 12 contained a copy of the whole story.)
Here’s some photographs taken in that media tour 2011:
Since then I’ve taken more time to get to know Lori Lynn, Mike and Brad better and I’m blown away by the energy, commitment, devotion, intelligence and just plain old hard work that they put into the business everyday. (For this blog posting, my focus is Township 7 and in a future one, I’ll cover a bit more on Black Cloud.)
I’ve had the opportunity to attend plays and art shows raising money for local charities in the Naramata location such as the scenes in the photographs below. The South Langley location buzzes even more frequently with great events such as annual Easter egg hunts and wine-paired dinners. I wish I could be in two places at one time just to take in those events and often wonder how the Township 7 team pulls it off!
A former Calgarian, I was so proud when Township 7 had the honour of being selected as the official Centennial Wine for the Calgary Stampede’s 100th Anniversary. What great fun to join them on a glorious summer day for a Western Roundup Party to celebrate! It’s not everyday I get to brush off my cowboy dudes and channel my inner cowgirl in the Okanagan! In addition to barrel blending seminars, barbeque and cake, tastings of the limited edition wine, there was live country music, line dancing, displays with local artisans, activities for kids and adults with partial proceeds to the South Okanagan’s Habitat for Humanity. Western Roundup parties were held in both the Naramata and South Langley sites.
Naramata Stampede Party with Jennifer Cockrall-King (right) displaying the Calgary Stampede Township 7 Merlot with me showing the Chardonnay.
With their community focus and fun-loving approach, you’ll find Mike and Lori-Lynn out to many events, whether it’s Penticton’s Farmers Market or another local celebration such as the Street Dance or Peach Festival. When the Okanagan White Dinner was organized as a precursor to being officially recognized as a Dîner en Blanc Okanagan, they were there to support it. In the pictures below, you will find them enjoying the event along with wine industry legend Harry McWatters. (By the way, Township 7 was contracted by Harry to work on his vintages and assist in the marketing. I’ll talk more about Harry in a future posting.)
To learn more about this fine winery and its people, please spend some time on the Township 7 website, and do be sure to visit either, or better yet, both of its locations.
Township 7 is a proud member of the Naramata Bench Winery Association.
South Langley/Fraser Valley Wine Shop is located at 21152 16th Ave (at 212th St.), Langley, BC V2Z 1K3 Phone: 604-532-1766 Fax: 604-532-1753
Naramata Bench/Okanagan Valley Wine Shop is located at 1450 McMillan Ave, Penticton, BC V2A 8T4 Phone: 250-770-1743 Fax: 250-770-1753