Business keeps growing on the Naramata Bench as one couple has taken their love of wine and grown it into their own winery, opening their tasting room just this past weekend.
Joel and Linda Chamaschuk, the co-owners of the newly-opened Chain Reaction Winery, describe themselves as “two of the biggest Okanagan wine cheerleaders in the world.”
For 30 years they had been coming up to the Okanagan from the Lower Mainland to taste and enjoy the local wines.
In 2017, they two started looking for opportunities in the Okanagan, and fell in love with a property on the Naramata Bench, boasting not only great growing conditions for grapes, but also plenty of great cycling trails.
“When we saw the property, we hadn't even thought about opening a winery. But that light went on again from 30 years earlier, that said ‘Hey, I want to be part of this thing,’” Joel said.
“I see these guys growing grapes over here and those guys growing grapes. So it appeared to be a good place to grow grapes. Not that we knew much about it at the time.”
From there, they moved onto the property in early 2018 and started to get to work in building a proper vineyard.
“At that time, it was all orchards, mostly apple trees, some cherry and peach trees. And we ripped it all out. Joel started with a chainsaw from Canadian Tire and discovered that that wasn't going to work. So we got a bigger chainsaw,” Linda said with a chuckle.
Eventually they realized they would need a bit more help.
“Even though we started with the intention of keeping this small between just the two of us, we needed help. There's no question about it. We're extremely hands on everything from building the winery, to planting the grapes to building our septic fields. We've done all that work, and you can't do it all yourself,” Joel said.
He started taking a viticulturist course when they first moved in, but they have also recruited a consulting winemaker, Dwight Sick, into their team.
The duo has done a lot of work since planting their first vineyard in 2019 as a small family run operation.
A couple years after that, they were able to make their first vintage.
The avid cyclists chose to put their own spin into the winery tasting room, keeping it inspired with fun labels and a hidden meaning in their name.
“So the name Chain Reaction actually has three different meanings, the first of which is the chain, referencing the bicycles. The second is that there's a chain reaction of events that kind of brought us to where we are today. And the last is that there's a chain reaction that occurs from grapes into wine in the bottle,” Linda said.
Luckily the Kettle Valley Rail trail is just a block from their property.
“We've cycled a lot together. And I mean everybody who comes to Penticton, one of the things that they think about is renting a bike and going on the KVR,” Linda added.
“So for us, it was a no brainer. When we thought about a winery and what we wanted to have as our focus; it was going to be a cycling theme.”
Heading forward, the winery will continue to be a small operation, run by just a few hands.
“We do so much of the work ourselves and we take everything to heart. Everything that we've done, we've put our blood, sweat and tears into it,” Joel said.
“We plan to keep everything small and focus on the quality and not the quantity.”
Since the winery has released a few vintages, they’ve earned accolades in the BC Lieutenant Governor's Award and National Canadian Wine Align.
“So to have those kinds of accolades and we hadn’t even opened our door, I mean, it's just phenomenal. We just can't wait to see where things are gonna go from here,” Linda said.
Chain Reaction winery is open daily from noon to 5 p.m.
For more information on the winery, visit their website here.