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BRITISH COLUMBIA SUNNY WAYS AND SUNNY VINEYARDS Sunny Okanagan is the place many Canadians think about moving to for their retirement years. The Canadian version of a Riviera, it has glittering lakes as a backdrop to ski hills, golf courses, cycling and hiking routes, and wine trails. Three 10-day annual wine festivals take place in winter, spring and fall as well as signature events throughout the summer ( Winter season mountain-top wine festivals at Sun Peaks are days fi lled with skiing, wine crawls, sparkling brunches and progressive tastings ( www.thewinefestivals. com/events/festival/4/Winter_Festival ). Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country has some great signature events: the Half Corked Marathon in May, an 18 km (11 mi.) run through beautiful vineyards; Festival of the Grape in October, with a grape stomping competition; and Pig Out in April ( www. ). Many of the wineries have excellent restaurants and some have great accommo- dations. Mission Hill's Terrace Restaurant, open May to October, off ers an unforgettable alfresco dining experience overlooking the vineyards and set against the spectacular backdrop of Okanagan Lake. Locally-sourced fare is complemented with herbs and vegetables from their own varietal gardens, along with locally foraged ingredients ( ). Quails' Gate off ers fl ights of wines and locavore meals in their Old Vines Restaurant and patio overlooking the same lake ( www.quailsgate. com ). The Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery ( ) and Tinhorn Creek's Miradoro Restaurant ( ) have both breathtaking views and delectable food. Hester Creek, one of the oldest wineries in the region, has a great restaurant, Terrafi na, and unique accommodations ( ). Spirit Ridge at Nk'Mip Resort was the fi rst Aboriginal owned and operated winery resort in Canada. Here the Osoyoos Indian Band has created a wine and cultural experience, bar none ( ). On Vancouver Island, travellers can visit wine, mead, cider, and premium spirits producers. The fi rst commercial vineyard was established in the Cowichan Valley in 1970 and the Island's fi rst winery opened in 1992. Today, around 80 vineyards cultivate grapes for over 40 wineries ( ). Vancouver Island Expeditions off ers local food and drink tours such as A Taste of Nanaimo and the Comox Valley Craft Brewery Tour ( www.vancouverisland ). Canadians love a good homegrown drink. Of late, craft breweries, artisanal distilleries and cideries have blossomed across the nation. Spirits range from the unique Birmingham's Dill Pickle Vodka to the sublime Royal Crown Northern Harvest Rye Whisky called out last year by a British critic as the world's best whisky. This northern country is also home to over 700 licenced wineries and is the world's leading producer of icewine. A TOAST TO CANADA BY MARGARET SWAINE BANFF NATIONAL PARK, AB • CTC 54

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