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Thompson Valley: Kamloops gold country
Tourists have had a longstanding love affair with the Thompson Valley. In fact the city of Kamloops, the largest urban centre in the area, takes it’s name from the Shuswap word “Tk’emlups,” meaning “meeting place.” It’s a year-round playground for outdoor enthusiasts and urban adventurers. And while it is considered an emerging wine region, it is has a rich history associated to First Nations culture, fur trading, mining and ranching. There’s boundless access to pristine wilderness and remote fish camps. There are opportunities to shop ‘til you drop or ride the dusty trail. And there is wine. The Kamloops/Thompson Region may be the most northerly area within BC Wine Country, but it enjoys more than 2,000 hours of sunshine annually and often records some of the warmest temperatures in Canada on any given day during the growing season. This fact is not lost on the winemakers of the region who have put their faith in the area being an up and coming hotbed for wine production. Indeed, it is just coming into its own with several family-owned wineries. With about 95 acres of grapes planted, the region makes up only about one per cent of the total vineyard in BC But the potential is real and enthusiasts can count on a personalized experience and share in the passion and determination of these new pioneers who are undaunted by any perceived challenges. Every single wine region in British Columbia has had to prove its mettle when it comes to winegrowing and production. Vintners who set the course must be risk takers. But history has demonstrated that this determination tends to pay off. And year by year, producers in the Thompson Valley are demonstrating just that. There’s a lot to love about the Kamloops/Thompson region. Anchored by the Thompson River, where you’ll find vineyard starting to line its banks, a visit to a winery can often be accompanied by a wildlife viewing experience. 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 Falls and plunging a spectacular 141 metres down a narrow canyon. Venture west into Gold Country and you’ll find a diverse landscape that will appeal to nature lovers with its alpine mountains, wildflower meadows, sagebrush scented desert, thick forests, lakes, canyons and vast ranchlands. The region offers a unique way to explore these natural features through geocaching. If you’ve always admired the cowboy way of life, there are getaways where you can ride the dusty trail and help drive livestock on a true working ranch. Hiking, bird-watching, fishing and hunting enthusiasts will love all that the natural landscape affords. For example, stunning 10,000-year-old rock formations, known as the Hoodoos, provide a breathtaking opportunity for exploration. If cityscapes are more your thing, make your way to Kamloops, the second largest metropolitan area in the BC 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. Accessing wine country via the Thompson region would be a fantastic way to kick off a wine-soaked tour of the Thompson-Okanagan. Tasting the region’s unique terroir while taking in its diverging landscape will guarantee an unsurpassed sense of place.