Vawters in the Valley

Boat Life = Pause

Wine Life = Play

Wait what?  So there are lots of questions but the main idea is:  Cameron and I have put Banyan up on the hard in Mexico and have made our way up to the norther extremities of the Sonoran Desert, the hottest place in…yup, you guessed it, Canada.  Just north of central Washington, only a few miles from the US border is Canada’s extremely small, but potential packed red wine growing region; the Southern Okanagan Valley.

Sage brush and vineyards in the distance. Just starting to bud out here in the Okanagan
Sage brush and vineyards in the distance. Just starting to bud out here in the Okanagan

How did this happen?  Well, a client that I’ve been working with for over a year now has put his money where his mouth is and has started purchasing vineyards and a half built winery.  They have asked Cameron and I to come help get things kick started.  It’s an exciting project with Backen and Gillam as the architectural firm, Ledcor as the construction firm and a host of other great people working together on what will be a lovely winery.  We thought it sounded like a good adventure, good for the cruising kitty and great professional experience… plus it’s fun.

Cameron and the girls enjoying a few pints of ice-cream with a view of Vancouver from Spanish Banks Beach on English Bay
Cameron and the girls enjoying a few pints of ice-cream with a view of the city of Vancouver from Spanish Banks Beach on English Bay

So, are you guys Canadians now?  Is this because of Trump?  We will be honorary Canadians with valid work VISAs (thanks to a good immigration lawyer) just through the end of January 2017 and then back to Banyan to keep cruising Mexico.  I’m still working with all my wine clients in Canada and the US.  Being in Canada sure makes that a bit easier eh?

I’m disappointed…I thought I’d see pictures of you all in the South Pacific, clad in bathing suits, drinking from coconuts, learning French on the beach and singing Bali Hai.  I know.. me too.  But there are a few factors:1) The ability to help a client for a set time at the beginning of a very exciting project is a great opportunity that fits right into our life plans, our interests and our abilities.  It’s a very aggressive project with extremely high quality objectives which is appealing to us.  We are looking forward to getting to know the people and the wines of the Okanagan as well.  It’s just another twist in the traveling road.

2) El Niño.  This anomaly can produce less consistent trade winds and unsettled weather on the way from Mexico to the Marquesas.  Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not a plus, lets just say that.

3) We want to see more of Mexico!  Mexico is amazing.  Aside from the rabid dogs and the trash EVERYWHERE (sad), we love it.  The people are so sweet, the food is amazing, we love brushing up on our Spanish, its very affordable, there’s a great cruising community, it’s easy to cruise there and we just haven’t seen enough of it yet. We want to do another season there at least.

4) So, with that in mind, it means that we have to do something for the summer, because only the really crusty cruisers weather a “Summer in the Sea”.  The Sea of Cortez BAKES in the summer, and I say that with very little exaggeration.  Getting out of that particular dodge is a must for most.  There were several options on the table, but we opted for…well, Canada, strangely enough!

I thought Canadians just made icewine?  Ha     ha     ha.  Yes, they make lots of icewine, mainly for the tourists.  They do have a few particularly exciting red regions, not large, but with lots of potential and gaining accolades regularly.  We will be in a town called Oliver growing grapes on the “Black Sage Bench”.  It’s a young industry in a young region but the combination of dramatic landscapes, huge glacial lakes, scant rainfall, long hot summer days and deep sand based soils make it a fascinating place to make wine.  I’ve been working in this area for 4 years now and am so excited by the wines we have been producing.

here we are!
Here we are!  We will be living just south of the town of Oliver… notice how close we are to Montana!  My sister is gonna get a visit!

What about the kids?!?  Yes, they are coming with us naturally and they will be entering school!  It will give them a chance to make more friends, experience some Canadian pastimes such as hockey, skiing and curling.  Plus they will get to learn to speak Canadian!   Say a prayer for them, they are a little daunted by the prospect.  They have been weathering this particular storm extremely well.  The decommissioning of the boat, the traveling, the working.  I keep waiting for them to have a breakdown but I think I will probably have one first.  Kids are so resilient.

Adelaide watching Banyan being raised out of the water... it was with mixed feelings.
Adelaide watching Banyan being raised out of the water… it was with mixed feelings.

So that’s the skinny.  I have a few backlogged blog posts that will come out over the next month.  This has all been a bit hush hush because of the very recent close of the property and we weren’t sure it was actually going to really work until a few days ago when the immigration officer actually let us into the country!   So, stay tuned.  A few more boat posts to come, then you may have to suffer through some photos of us making wine in the desert and then skiing at Whistler or something like that.  But, back to the boat we will go come hail or high water.

Isa and a hidden Adelaide showing off the pile of luggage we schlepped to Canada
Isa and a hidden Adelaide showing off the pile of luggage we schlepped to Canada #puddlejumpbag x 2


  1. Tom Rinaldi says:

    It pays to wear a seat belt when reading of the adventures! I have been consulting south of your new gig-on Red Mountain in mid-Washington for a few years, and I am excited with the potential the Great Northwest has to offer. I am happy the new project is in your hands! Cheers!

      • Tom Rinaldi says:

        I had lunch with Stan lately and mentioned your new adventures…not sure if he wants you to take over for me quite yet! Had a great visit to mid-Washington and vintage 2014 final blends; and I am very pleased, proud, and confident…I know you will encounter the same high quality in B.C. Cheers!

  2. Sharon S says:

    What an exciting little detour in your adventure! I cannot wait to see a picture of the girls loaded up with hockey pads.

  3. Sally Lindsay says:

    What fun you will have in BC! We spent a couple of years there and loved every minute of it. Okanagan wine was our favorite. Congratulations on your newest adventure. Hope everything sails along smoothly. Best to you and the girls.
    Sally and Don Lindsay
    (Met you at Two Harbors, gave the girls pirate hats)

  4. Paul and Carla says:

    It looks like we might have a chance to see you and the kids
    this summer (?). You’ll be a lot closer than we would have thought just a month or so ago. We still have almost 10 feet of snow at Bachelor to play on through the end of May. It would be fun to do it with the Vawters!

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Paul! you guys NEED to come here, especially now, it’s amazingly beautiful. Cameron and I just look out the window in the afternoons and are amazed. You guys need to fire up the Porsche and come see us!

  5. Molly Hill says:

    You two are so crazy and I love it! Hope you find some time to check out the town of Summerland just north of you. That’s where I grew up in Santa Barbara. Wonder what Canadian Summerland is like?!?!

  6. Gary Souza says:

    Life is about experiences-good and bad. I love your and Cams enthusiasm for adventure, and hope the girls inherit it. They will, for sure appreciate the adventure, and learning new things. Enjoy every minute, it goes by quick. I’ll be cruising Desolation Sound this summer, and will be thinking of my “Mexicanadian” friends….Hugs to all. Aloha, Gary

  7. Angia McLaughlin says:

    Yippee!! You’re going to be about 6 hours of driving away from us! I can’t believe you will be so close! Will you have time for company? We would love to come visit and see you and how the winery is progressing. So excited for your opportunity to help start a new business! Love and Miss all of you! Hugs! Angia and John

  8. Michele Herald says:

    Interesting side-trip!!! Do you think you need a bit of help in the winery for harvest???? … I am getting a bit bored with my life here.

    It will be good for Cameron to “keep his hand in” winery wise, for future jobs too. I have been thinking of you, and following the ongoing tropical cyclones down here in the South Pacific… it has been a bad year, so a good year to miss!!!

    Michele xx

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Michele! Good to hear from you. Soon we will be pulling in to see you on NZ! Board with your life! Come and visit us… it’s BEAUTIFUL here. Not figured out harvest needs yet, uncertain about crushing location… still lots of things up in the air:)

  9. Jessica Tomei says:

    I love reading of your adventures! I was nervous about how our kids would adjust when we moved to Monterey a year ago. They were fine! It was harder on me. Your girls will have the most interesting life stories to share. Amazing.
    Your project sounds fantastic. You guys will rock it! Much love, Jessica

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Jessica! So great to hear from you. Making moves can be a real nail biter… Glad your kids adjusted to Monterey. That’s a great place to live! So glad we are staying in touch. My best to your and yours.

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