Valley First

Spirited Journey

Naramata couple takes pride in local, hand-crafted liquor
July 22, 2014

Penticton, B.C.—For nearly half a decade in the heart of what’s arguably Canada’s pre-eminent wine country, Doug and Dawn Lennie had simmered an idea on the backburner of their minds. Then, in 2013 with scores of full-scale and boutique wineries peppering the Okanagan Valley around them, they knew the time was ripe for something unique. In that moment, they determined to bring Legend Distilling to full boil.

One of only a handful of Okanagan-based distilleries, Legend Distilling produces handmade, small-batch spirits from raw, locally-grown, premium ingredients. Located in Naramata, the distillery is the first of its kind in the area.

“Offering something different in the marketplace was key,” says 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.”

But not just any agricultural property, she explains. The Lennies specifically wanted to be on the Naramata Bench, having made their home there since 2005. Besides putting down roots in the area, the couple also built a couple of successful local businesses while developing their taste for the spirits business. Dawn owned and operated the artisan food market and eatery The Bench in Penticton and Doug ran his own construction company.

“We’re thrilled with the location we found,” she explains. “We have access to a bounty of beautiful, raw ingredients to create our products from and fabulous scenery and ambiance for our tasting room and patio guests. We want our customers to enjoy everything that’s connected to the making of our spirits.” The Lennies are also pleased they found Heather O’Coin, their commercial account manager at Valley First. “Having a financial partner that takes the time to understand your business is vital,” Dawn says. “Heather and the team at Valley First were a tremendous support in getting the business off the ground. They made sure we had all the right financial pieces our business needs to succeed.”

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, with 38 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the province operating under the Valley First, Envision Financial and Enderby & District Financial brands. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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