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First Impressions: The Okanagan Valley


I remember my first car ride into the Okanagan Valley vividly. The image of sand colored, rocky hillsides filled with neat rows of grape vines sandwiched between the shimmering blue water of Lake Okanagan and a similarly colored cloudless sky is seared into my brain. Having grown up just a short distance away in Oregon, I asked myself, “How have I never heard of this jewel?!”

Having arrived late in the day, we spent the first evening watching the sun set from a vineyard perched on the top of a hill. I turned to my wife and said, “Napa Valley does not have views like this”. And the wine we tasted would have given any from Napa Valley a run for its money.

Each day spent in the valley left me wanting more. Rounds of golf, tastings at a multitude of vineyards, visits to fruit orchards and an artisan cheese maker, meals at restaurants with stunning views and strolls through the lakefront area of Kelowna made time fly by. And we did not even have time to experience many of the other available activities such as biking, hiking and spending time on the lake. My one regret after having visited is not discovering the area sooner.

When traveling I always find myself asking if I could retire in that place, and when it comes to the Okanagan Valley the answer is a definitive “yes”.

Matt Clemons

Director of Admissions at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

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