Reinventing the Okanagan

British Columbia's Okanagan Valley is where the Lake District meets Napa Valley meets the Wild West, a formerly sleepy retirement haven of orchards and vineyards being reinvented by dream-chasing Canadian entrepreneurs who are turning their hobbies and obsessions into successful tourism businesses

In the mountains of British Columbia, four hours east of Vancouver—where most Americans might envision only moose, bears, year-round snow—lies British Columbia's best-kept secret: the sun-drenched Okanagan Valley.

Thanks to its Mediterranean microclimate, this valley of long, deep lakes snuggled between mighty peaks sees snow only in wintertime, moose infrequently, and—well, OK, there are some bears.

Also rattlesnakes, since the valley's 100-mile stretch incorporates everything from typical Pacific Northwest Douglas fir forests in the north to a genuine desert along the Washington State border in the south.

Laced with vineyards and orchards, the Okanagan has long been a weekend escape for Vancouverites dreaming of early retirement.

Over the past decade, though, a boom in the local wine industry has made the Okanagan also something of a magnet for tourism entrepreneurs who are as unexpectedly quirky as the temperate climate and desert scenery north-of-the-border Napa.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in August 2013.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.