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If you think that "wine country" and "British Columbia" have as much in common as "beaches" and "the Arctic," think again. The British Columbia region known as the Okanagan, roughly five hours east of Vancouver by car or one hour by air, is a significant wine-producing area. It calls itself the "Napa of the North," and although that's stretching the truth somewhat—Okanagan wine production is a
literal drop in the bucket compared to that of the Napa Valley—the Okanagan is a magnet for wine enthusiasts, novice and expert alike.
Add to that the region's arid summer climate, lake activities, golf courses, and abundant snow in winter and you have a perfect short getaway from Vancouver and the British Columbia coast.
The Okanagan's wineries are concentrated in three general areas: around the city of Kelowna and north toward Vernon, along the Naramata Bench outside the town of Penticton, and in the area between Oliver and Osoyoos, just north of the U.S. border. If you're planning a short trip, you might want to stick to just one of these areas. Although it's only about 125 km (75 miles) between Kelowna and Osoyoos, it takes about two hours to drive between them. With approximately 200 wineries throughout the Okanagan, each area has enough to occupy several days of tasting.
The Okanagan's sandy lake beaches and hot dry climate have long made it a family-holiday destination for Vancouverites and Albertans, and the region is still the fruit-growing capital of Canada.