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Living the Dream

Steven Threndyle, Westcoast Homes & Design (Vancouver Sun), Summer 2012

For as long as people have inhabited cities, they’ve paradoxically felt the need to escape them and get “back to the garden,” as Joni Mitchell sang. From rolling ranch lands to tidy vineyards to wild, pounding surf – British Columbia offers plenty of places to get back to the land and dirt under your fingernails.

When it comes to recreational property, some people just want to chill out on weekends and holidays, while others see their second homes as the launch pad for a new life in viticulture, ranching, or fishing.

Live to surf

Named by prestigious Outside magazine as “the best surf town in North America” in 2010, Tofino lies at the edge of Canada’s rugged West Coast, where moss-laden giant cedars and driftwood-strewn sandy beaches collide with the crashing Pacific surf. Located on two-kilometre-long Chesterman Beach, this architecturally-designed, custom built-home blends in perfectly with the natural surroundings and offers ocean views from virtually every room. After a chilly surf session, you can warm up by the outdoor fire pit or jump right in to the outdoor hot tub. The rustic West Coast materials, open plan kitchen, living and dining rooms and three large bedrooms are augmented by floor-to-ceiling windows and a cosy fireplace. Rich, hardwood floors and high ceilings provide a spacious, airy ambience that keeps this house cool, even in August. There’s also a guest house/crash pad for out-of-town surfers. This is the perfect retreat while waiting for that winter swell to arrive.

Location: Chesterman Beach, Tofino

Price: $2.57 million

Become a winemaker

Many wine lovers often wonder if they could make it in the highly competitive world of grape growing and wine making. In the Okanagan Valley, there’s always a For Sale sign or two hanging outside a winery. Bonitas Winery in aptly-named Summerland sits on 13.25 acres of lakefront property with 1,000 feet of beach access. According to Christa Frosch of Sotheby’s, The Vineyard Collection, this 5,592-square-foot winery has been in production for three years and has already been recognized for its award-winning wines. Production for the winery is about 4,000 cases annually, while tank and cellaring capacity would allow for an increase and growth in the brand. Eight acres of the vineyard are planted in merlot, gewürztraminer and pinot gris.

In addition to the tasting room and winery, Bonitas features a 100-seat restaurant with a renowned chef and an on-site helicopter pad allowing guests to arrive for heli-wine tours and special events. The Summerland climate combined with incredible lake and mountain views make this property an exceptional venue for weddings, wine touring and destination events.

On the same property but far enough from the winery to allow some privacy, this offering includes a contemporary, Mediterranean-style residence built in 1994. This five-bedroom home has a three-car garage and could be converted to a guest house.

Location: Bonitas Winery, Summerland

Price: $8.8 million

Mountainside Retreat

Exclusive luxury slope-side living just begins to describe what life is like at Kadenwood, a private, secluded community located on the Creekside of Whistler Mountain. Serviced by its very own gondola and with ski trails cut and groomed right to the door of this palatial 5/6-bedroom estate home, Kadenwood is the most prestigious neighbourhood of its kind to be built in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. Listing realtor Rob Palm says, “The High Point Drive street address really says it all. Perched on a ridge, this is one of the few Whistler homes that offers a stunning 360-degree view that takes in Whistler Mountain, Alta Lake, and the Coast Mountains, all the way to the Tantalus Range.”

Award-winning Openspace Architecture and Bradner Homes in West Vancouver brought the owner’s vision to life, utilizing reclaimed timber from the B.C. Interior for the exposed post-and-beam construction. Deluxe features include integrated audio, video, lighting and security controls, geothermal heating, custom-designed climate-controlled wine cellar, media room, a heated outdoor pool and hot tub.

Reason for sale? Palm laughs. “The owner realizes that he has more friends than he thought, and wants to build a larger house a couple of lots over from this one.”

Location: Kadenwood, Whistler Price: $ 9,000,000

Home on the Range

When it comes to purchasing wild west-style ranch property, there’s only one land broker to go to within B.C. and that’s Rudy Nielson’s NIHO Land and Cattle. With extensive listings throughout the famed Cariboo/Coast and the Lakes District west of Prince George, NIHO has a handle on both the commercial potential and recreational and business opportunities that a ranch acreage can provide.

At 1,120 acres, the Noralee Ranch is one of the largest land parcels that NIHO offers. Assembled from eight different land titles, the Noralee Ranch takes its name from Nora and Lee Newgard, who were the first postmasters of the hamlet of Noralee and briefly operated a store in the area. The majority of the property is undeveloped. There are about 337 acres of unfenced hayland or improved pasture stands of aspen and spruce trees throughout the property. There is a maintained gravel road into the property, and an extensive system of rough trails grants access to every part of this ranch. The network of streams on the property provides a steady water supply and there is also a well. Power and phone are available here. Nearby Francois Lake is the third largest in B.C., and offers ample fishing opportunities.

Location: Lakes District, B.C.

Price: $595,000