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Bruce Sanderson

The Okanagan Valley

For most Americans, Okanagan Valley may not have the familiar ring of Napa Valley, but this growing Canadian wine region, distinguished by the unique character of its topography and cool climate, offers a broad array of wines. The area's defining geographical landmark is the 132-mile-long Lake Okanagan, which extends for nearly the entire length of the valley. The lake moderates Canada's normally frigid winter weather and provides water for this otherwise dry region.

Located in the central portion of Canada's western province of British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley stretches south to Canada's border with the United States. Vineyards were first planted here in the 1860s, at the Oblate Mission of Father Charles Pandosy. However, commercial wine production was not developed here until the 1930s. The region is now home to wineries whose white wines—with crisp, firm acidity—shine brightest.


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