December 22, 2005 | Tips from Us >
Sun Peaks Resort, Wineries & Vineyards
The Sun Peaks Icewine Festival
is coming up in mid-January, and it's an event not to be missed. I attended last years festival, and had a great time. Held at Sun Peaks
, a ski resort in the BC interior (about 45 minutes from Kamloops), the festival is a celebration of harvest time for the icewine grapes. Icewine, for the uninitiated, is a sweet dessert wine which is created from grapes that are left on the vine until mid-winter. They are only harvested after the temperatures have dipped below freezing for an extended period, which freezes the grape right through. The solid grapes are then pressed, and the resulting sweet juice is fermented into a really remarkable drink. But the festival's activities aren't restricted to just dessert wines. Last year, I attended seminars that covered topics such as pairing wine with cheese, and another on BC's unique wines
and wine regions. But for me, the call of the outdoors was too much to keep me inside all day. A snowshoeing tour, a snowbike lesson
, and as much skiing
as I could fit in, put roses in my cheeks all weekend (really, it was because of the brisk outdoor activity, not the wine...) The highlight of the festival is the progressive tasting, where wineries are set up throughout the resort's village, and festival-goers, with glass in hand, wind (or weave) their way through the pedestrian streets to the many tasting tables. This year, the Sun Peak Icewine festival is January 19 - 22, 2006.
December 14, 2005 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Vancouver - Shopping
It's not hard to tell that most British Columbians love to get outdoors
. One of the worst-kept secrets for outdoor adventurers in BC is a store called Mountain Equipment Co-op
(also known as MEC). Founded in Vancouver, this large store stocks outdoor technical clothes, backpacks, bike parts, backcountry ski equipment, kayaks and paddles, and much more. The prices are the lowest you'll find anywhere for the same standard of quality. Case in point: a friend who lives in New Zealand and travels regularly to see his sister in the UK, always makes sure his flight has a stopover in Vancouver to stock up at MEC. The store sees a steady stream of out-of-towners checking out the gear, and the logo is almost as common a symbol as the maple leaf, identifying Canadian travellers when they head out on excursions. (When I was hiking in Spain, a fellow traveller noticed I was Canadian when she spotted my MEC socks!) The store requires all shoppers to purchase a $5 membership, and the co-op structure means MEC's pricing is fair and mark-ups are minimal. You'll find two MEC outlets in Vancouver
, one on Broadway and one in North Vancouver.