NARAMATA – A craft distillery in the midst of wine country doesn’t seem out of place to Dawn and Doug Lennie.
The owners of newly-opened Legend Distilling: Small Town Spirits in Naramata are confident people will find their vodka and other products just as alluring as any Chardonnay.
A grand opening celebration was held Thursday evening at their renovated tasting room and production facility, formerly home to the local doctor’s office at 3005 Naramata Road.
“We just wanted offer something a little different than another winery,” Doug said. “We really wanted to be in the community.”
Among a handful of Okanagan-based distilleries, Legend Distilling produces handmade, small-batch spirits from raw, locally-grown, premium ingredients. Doug is the distiller.
“Offering something different in the marketplace was key,” said Dawn. “That includes location – where we decided to set up shop was just as important. Many distilleries are located in more urban or commercial areas. We made a conscious choice to be on agricultural property.”
Legend Distilling opened July 11, offering its Shadow on the Lake Vodka. A sour cherry-infused vodka will be ready soon and the couple are working on a special gin recipe, to be known as Doctor’s Orders Gin.
“What we’ve done with the Legend Distilling name is attach a story to each product – a legend from the area,” Dawn explained.
Shadow on the Lake Vodka relates to Ogopogo, while Doctor’s Orders Gin will reflect back on the Prohibition years when alcohol was only available with a doctor’s prescription.
As a craft distillery, Legend must use B.C.-produced grains and blending products such as juniper berries, cherries and other fruits.
Plans call for the tasting room to remain open until Christmas, prior to reopening next spring.
“We’ll be producing year-round,” Dawn said. “It’s definitely a building thing to get the word out there that we’re here and we’re open now.”
Just like craft breweries, there is a growing consumer preference for craft distilleries. Dawn added.
“It’s all great because it’s showcasing raw materials from around here. It’s just a different product,” she said.
Legend’s one-hectare property allows for many of their own products to be grown on-site, including apricots, raspberries, mint, lavender, basil and more.
The tasting room, with a tremendous view of Okanagan Lake and Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland, has a definite heritage feel, while a large patio provides an outdoor venue.
Legend Distilling plans to produce 700 to 800 cases in its first year of operation, eventually reaching up to 1,200 cases annually.
“It’s all small batch and we always want to be improving our product,” Doug said. “We’re always trying to find a way to make it better.”
The Lennies are no strangers to the business world. Dawn formerly owned and operated The Bench Market on Vancouver Avenue in Penticton and Doug ran his own construction company. Valley First has provided financial support to get their new business off the ground.