(pictured: Steve gets some love from farm dog Blue.)

As an Okanagan resident, I’m amazed how many unexplored opportunities lie waiting nearby. This summer, I’ll be a “stay-cationer,” experiencing things people the world over travel here to enjoy. First on my bucket list: travelling the Similkameen river to Forbidden Fruit Winery (FF).

Imagine tubing down a meandering waterway, passed snow-capped mountains, sage and antelope brush desert vistas and bio-diverse riparian eco-systems, arriving at a 140-acre 35-year-old organic fruit orchard, art gallery and winery. Sound tempting?
Along with his artist-wife Kim Brind’Amour, orchardist and winemaker Steve Venables owns and operates FF and Ven ‘Amour Organic Farms, featuring 60 varieties of rare fruit available seasonally. Steve expects a “Godzilla-crop” this year!

Most people tube (4-5 hours) from the bridge near Cawston to FF’s paradise-on-earth, where you can picnic and sample fresh fruits and three 2014 All Canadian Wine Championship Gold Medal wines: Earth Series Merlot, Cherysh Cherry Rosé and the Impearfection off-dry Asian Pear. Wines range from explosively aromatic whites, Bordeaux-style reds, succulent dessert wines and sparkling.

July 26 and 27 (10 – 4), Kim’s participating in the annual “Art in the Garden” show, featuring 15 local artists held at various beautiful outdoor locations including FF. Free admission, details @ www.osoyoosnow.com. “Kim’s thrilled – she’s a truly talented artist,” says Steve. “My art is in the orchard.”

Beyond wines and fruits, FF’s classy, boutique shop is filled with Kim’s art, custom jewellery, jams, and handcrafted oak barrel furniture (courtesy of son Nathan).

~ Sarah Willard