The Okanagan Valley is an important wine-producing region and tourist destination in British Columbia in Canada, where there is a grand wine exhibition every October showcasing more than a hundred vintages. Wineries also invite the public to crush grapes in the vats and to free tastings, which always attract oenophiles from all over.
The valley is between Vancouver and the famous Rocky Mountains and contains a number of towns. Penticton is one of the most well-known and offers an array of fresh fruit stalls, preserves and homemade candy to tempt visitors. There is only a small charge to pick fruit such as peaches, apples and cherries in the orchards. Farmers' children and their dogs lazing in the sun give an idea of the carefree life here.
The valley's limestone-rich soil and undulating terrain make it an ideal place to grow grapes. The small town of Naramata has many wine estates including traditional family wineries with over a hundred years of history and many new labels. Wine lovers from all over come at the height of the season each year to buy their favourites and taste the various wines available. Some of the award-winning wines can sell out in a week. A sip of authentic ice wine while enjoying the beauty of the lakes and mountains makes difficult to tell if the beverage or the scenery is more intoxicating.
Another town called Osoyoos has lakeside beaches for various water sports in addition to fruit and wine. There are also golf courses and ski resorts for recreation all year round. Life in the Okanagan Valley is simple and laid back. If people are a little less hurried, a little bit more patient and enjoy surroundings they can feel as if they are living in paradise.
Transport: Fly from Hong Kong to Vancouver and then transfer to Penticton. Rental cars are available for a drive to enjoy the scenery along the way. Bicycles are a common means of transport in the city.
Currency: Canadian dollar
Starting point: Visitors can go to the Wine Information Center in Penticton to get a map and plan their routes.
Climate: The October temperature ranges from 14°C to minus 1°C.
Okanagan Valley travel website: www.okanagan.com
(By Candy Chan, winner of the third Young Writers' Debut competition.)