There she is standing tall on the hillside over looking the Naramata Bench and the Okanagan Lake, Hillside Estate Winery Pride of the Naramata Bench.
Hillside Estate was started in 1984 when Vera and Bohumir Klockockas began replacing fruit trees with vines in the orchard
they had purchased in 1979 on Naramata Road, just north of the city of Penticton, BC. The couple had decided the site
would be ideal for a vineyard because of the gravelly topsoil on a slope which faced west, catching the direct rays
of the sun and reflections off nearby Lake Okanagan.
Hillside was the first winery designed by architect Robert MacKenzie back in 1997; he later designed others including Burrowing Owl, Red Rooster, Cedar Creek and Nk’mip. It took 2.5 years to build the current winery building which now dominates the view along Naramata Road.
The building’s style is taken from a gristmill design. Not only is the 72 foot tower architecturally stunning, but it is also functional. It acts as a ventilation shaft that helps to cool the winery cellar in the hot summer months. The tower and the cellar are connected by a door at their base and by opening the door we can circulate the warm air up and out of the cellar through the tower.
Hillside is a timber-frame building with all of its 85,000 board feet of white pine originating from a single stand in northern Saskatchewan (the lumber was milled in a specialty mill just outside of Prince Albert.). The four dark Douglas fir beams that hold up the roof and Upper Patio of our Bistro are the only B.C. lumber in the winery; they were logged off Vancouver Island in the late 1800s and previously supported the roof of the Acklands Hardware Warehouse on Granville Island in Vancouver for almost 90 years. In their lifetime these beams have survived at least three warehouse fires.
In 1989 Hillside, together with Lang Vineyards and Wild Goose, lobbied the Provincial Government to bring about the Farmgate Winery Policy that was instrumental in changing the B.C. Wine Industry. The new policy allowed small vineyards of five acres or less to not only produce wine but also to sell it directly from their premises.
Hillside’s gardens are also a distinctive feature of the winery, boasting over a hundred plant species. Karin Parkin, Hillside's long-time groundskeeper, is always hard at work making sure that her gardens are beautiful.
Their philosophy is that great wines start in the vineyard, and to this end, They use only the best quality fruit available from our twenty acres of grapes densely planted on hillside terraces surrounding the winery. We also have partnerships with select vineyards along the Naramata Bench.
The winery is known for its Muscat Ottonel the first variety planted at the Hillside farm (1984), and has been a favourite here for some 30 years. The Muscat family numbers over 200, and Ottonel is a particularly floral, refreshing member.
Hillside was the first Okanagan winery to bottle a Cabernet Sauvignon varietal wine. That wine was one of the reasons that Sal D’Angelo established D’Angelo Estate Winery in 2007, not far from Hillside.
Gamay is also a popular variety planted initially by Vera and Bohumir.
Kathy Malone has been the winemaker since 2008. She was born in Vermont and trained at Mission Hill prior to joining Hillside.
How good is Kathy? Put it this way: John Simes, Mission Hill's senior winemaker, at the time , hired two winemakers to replace her.
Author John Schreiner writes Kathy is highly regarded by her employers as she continues to raise the bar on wine quality. At a recent tasting, I found the new releases from Hillside among the best I have ever tasted at this winery.
Another great feature of the winery is the Bistro. They have the distinction of being awarded one of Canada's “Best Restaurants for Wine Lovers”. The Bistro features a striking 65 seat dining area, lower outdoor patio and an upper open-air patio with breathtaking views of Okanagan Lake.
In 2018 Hillside Estate Winery Reserve Pinot Gris 2017 received The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Award.