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Planning your B.C. Wine Tour
South Thompson: Kamloops & Gold Country This may be one of the newest wine-growing areas to be established in British Colombia, but it’s a region steeped in a rich history. It’s full of cowboy lore, gold mining stories and First Nations Culture The terms “pioneer” and “forging new frontiers” are well suited to describe wine producing in this area. In fact, Kamloops’ first winery, Harper’s Trail, is named for renowned BC pioneer and rancher, Thaddeus Harper, who used the grounds as a camp and staging area, as cattle were driven from the U.S. to the Chilcotin. Meanwhile, fellow Kamloops-area visionaries and proprietors of Monte Creek Ranch Winery still use their property as a working ranch and carry their commitment to sustainable farming into their production of wine.
Vintners may be pushing the envelope when it comes to grape growing, but the region enjoys more than 2,000 hours of sunshine annually and often records some of the warmest temperatures in Canada. After all, when winegrowing began in B.C. decades ago, there were plenty of naysayers and few – even those who took the plunge – predicted it would reach the level of excellence it has achieved today. The vintners who set the course were considered to be risk takers and mavericks at best; foolhardy and doomed at worst – but they proved the critics wrong and history speaks for itself. The Kamloops and Gold Country area is a year-round playground for outdoor enthusiasts and urban adventurers. There’s unsurpassed access to pristine wilderness and remote fish camps. There are opportunities to shop ‘til you drop or ride the dusty trail. In the north is where you’ll find Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and Wells Gray Provincial Park, which features Helmcken Falls, higher than Niagara and plunging a breathtaking 141 metres down a narrow canyon. Venture west into Gold Country and 20 provincial parks beckon with a vast array of landscape that will appeal to nature lovers from semi-arid desert to thick forests with lakes, grasslands, meadows, river canyons and mountains. The region offers a unique way to explore these natural features through geocaching offering ideal for group travellers. Couples can enjoy a one-of-a-kind luxury wilderness experience that combines old-world dude ranching with new age wellness. It won’t escape your notice that sage is prominent in this region – this aromatic herb grows wild with abandon, filling the air with its intoxicating scent. And exotic and stunning rock formations, known as the Hoodoos, provide an enchanting backdrop and the opportunity for exploration for the adventurous. If cityscapes are more your thing, make your way to the South Thompson and Kamloops, the second largest metropolitan area in the B.C. interior. Fine dining, nightlife, shopping and world-class golfing are there for the taking. But don’t forget to take note of the south’s stunning valleys and plateaus formed by volcanic land masses and rivers. And beautiful Sun Peaks Ski Resort is less than an hour’s drive away from the city and offers world-class skiing. It’s the site for the annual Okanagan Winter Wine Festival, which is a great option for wine enthusiasts traveling with their families.