British Columbia’s award-winning wine country is ripe for a quick getaway

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With British Columbia’s award-winning wine country only a four hour car trip away, there are few excuses for not taking advantage of its proximity to Vancouver for a quick getaway.  And what better way to experience the region than at the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival, named one of Canada’s best small festivals.

Invited by friends at The Wine Festival Society who organize this yearly event, my getaway stretched to a full five days, just long enough to sample some of the best wines and food  the Okanagan has to offer.

No visit to the area is complete with at least one night nestled in the mountains near Vernon at Sparkling Hill Resort. Built at a cost of $122 million, this wellness retreat boasts over 3.5 million Swarovski crystals that can be found in the chandeliers, fireplaces and even embedded in some of the walls.  This resort truly sparkles and there is little doubt that any visiting drag queen will tempted to chip out a few crystals to add to her tiara.

The real reason to visit Sparkling Hill though is its spa. A massive 40,000 square feet, the facilities include a fitness room, yoga classes, pool and hot tubs, plus seven different steam rooms and saunas to try. They also boast a cold sauna cryotherapy treatment that is a bone chilling -110° Celsius that is sure to be the coldest three minutes of your life.

Sparkling Hill Resort nestled in the mountains near Vernon boasts 3.5 million Swarvoski crystals. Photo by Marc Smith.

Sparkling Hill Resort nestled in the mountains near Vernon boasts 3.5 million Swarvoski crystals. Photo by Marc Smith.

Next up on the trip was the relatively new vineyard run by husband and wife team Curtis and Sherri-Lee Krouzel who oversee operations at 50th Parallel.  Self-described “glam-farmers”, Curtis looks like a rock star with his wild hair while Sherri-Lee wears three inch heels, sports a French manicure and is always made up and ready for a photo shoot.

While the winery is still in its early stages of development, the couple are planning first class accommodations on the property with views of the area that will be second to none. Of the wines we sampled the Pinot Noir and Rosé were big hits, but as they’re not yet at full capacity you’ll want to stock-up fast as they will no doubt sell out quickly.

"Glam-farmers” Curtis and Sherri-Lee Krouzel oversee 50th Parallel. Photo by Marc Smith.

“Glam-farmers” Curtis and Sherri-Lee Krouzel oversee 50th Parallel. Photo by Marc Smith.

One of the best dining experiences of the trip was back in Kelowna at RauDZ Regional Table. A local favourite, it fills up quickly and since they don’t take reservations you’ll want to arrive early or be patient with a little wait. But the wait is worth it for this first class cuisine as Chef Rod Butters and his wife Audrey Surrao have created an atmosphere sure to please even the pickiest of Davie Street Divas.  If you’re looking for cocktails this is your place too as Micah Jensen has crafted a cocktail menu that is as inventive as it is beautiful. The smoked margarita was delish and the bourbon and tequila inspired libations were divine.

Chef Rod Butters in the kitchen of Kelowna's RauDZ Regional Table. Photo by Marc Smith.

Chef Rod Butters in the kitchen of Kelowna’s RauDZ Regional Table. Photo by Marc Smith.

Only a small sampling of the experiences during this trip to the Okanagan, you can see the complete itinerary in words and pictures at 30 Day Adventures.

Beware though, you may just be inspired to hop in your car and drive “straight” to the Okanagan.  Or better yet, perhaps wait for something a little “gayer” and take in Okanagan Pride in August where the Okanagan Pride Centre is teaming up with The Wine Festival Society for the first time this year as part of its week-long Pride festivities.

Marc SmithMarc Smith is the Founder and Chief Adventurer at 30 Day Adventures. Passionate about building community and engaging in authentic communications, 30 Day Adventures is the embodiment of Marc’s journey through life.

An entrepreneur at heart, Marc left a successful career with Capers Community Markets in 2004 to found Amuse Consulting Inc, an event production company.  An avid speaker, Marc is a sought after emcee and has made multiple appearances on television and radio.

Being of service and giving back to the community is part of Marc’s DNA. Over the last few years Marc has donated his time and money to QMUNITY, Five Hole For Food and most recently the Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund Adopt-A-School.

You can find more information on this and Marc’s other adventures at or follow him on Twitter.

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