Monday, September 7, 2009

The Other Wine Country

Summer Hill Winery in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

The Other Wine Country, like Santa
Barbara, but different!

View of beautiful Lake Okanagan

The Belles of St Mary's enjoying High Tea at the Santa Barbara Biltmore 2008

Been traveling for a while and wasn't able to post...went to Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada for my annual reunion with the Belles of St. Mary's. There are about 400 Belles, but 6 meet annually. Of course I'm talking about my high school girlfriends. Didn't see each other for a loooooong time, and then in 2003 our high school, St. Mary's Girls' High, decided to do a once in a lifetime reunion...and we all gathered in Calgary, Alberta. Even the teachers and nuns were there! Except for one favorite Nun who gave up the Nunnery, moved to Paris, married and sold real estate for years before retiring! Amazing how our little 'group' was right back together again...from many points, and we've been meeting once a year (and more) ever since!

Only one of the Belles still lives in Calgary, Ann Marie,...but she ownes a gorgeous summer home in Kelowna, BC. Since we've done two 'Sideways Tours' in Santa Barbara Wine Country, it was time to see what Kelowna's wine country offered. How fitting that in Sunday's Santa Barbara Newspress, there was an article by my friend, Michael Cervin, famous local food and wine judge featuring Kelowna's wineries headed: "Just Like Santa Barbara, only different." If you'd like to read the entire article, see

Michael Cervin was absolutely right: "Santa Barbara is known worldwide for its stunning natural beauty, bevy of outdoor activities, wineries and restaurants, and art communities. Tourists flock here to experience the good life. The city of Kelowna in the central portion of the Okanagan Valley in Canada could easily be designated our sister city. The similarities are incredible. Where Santa Barbara has the ocean, Kelowna has Okanagan Lake, as well as stunning mountain terrain, heaps of outdoor activities, wineries and restaurants, as well as arts, even a low-key vibe to rival our own."

Our hostess, Ann Marie (aka AM), comes from a large family who are spread over Canada, and gather at her Kelowna home in the summer for family get-togethers. She had invited us to her "little cabin at the lake", (like us girls used to rent in the Summer at Gull Lake); but this was no cabin! A gorgeous home overseeing the lake and the entire valley. Her eldest son, Kevin came along to "veg out", and instead he played Butler to us all week. Breakfast & Dinner, and of course appetizers and cocktails when we arrived home from our daily adventures. What a life!

Two of our Belles were not able to come; Sally in London needed to attend a 90th birthday party and MJ in Vancouver Island, was attending to her elderly father in the Hospital during his last few weeks of life. Joan stopped by for a day and evening with her Fiance Michael, as they were on their way to a family wedding.

It didn't stop the three of us, AM, Marg and I from having tooooo much fun! AM showed us all the sights...beautiful scenery, wine tasting at 3 wineries and raspberry picking at a farm in Oliver, visiting old and new friends along the way, including a few darling consignment &vintage shops where we all found some treasures.

Diamond Diva, AM, showing off her Vintage Bling purchases!

One of her friends actually sells vintage and antiques from her Lake-side home at Wood Lake (shown below), as well as at shows from Calgary and Vancouver. She buys at the Orange Bowl Flea Market. I scored some wonderful vintage broaches which I'll incorporate in some of the jewelry I create. Her husband had a real estate brokerage in Vancouver and is now retired and travels with his wife to do shows.

What a beautiful area....right next door! I'm signing up for a month stay!

Ahhhh...the good life!

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