Pentage Winery sits on the crest of a dun-coloured promontory with a breathtaking view of Lake Skaha in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. It is one of 60-odd wineries now established in the valley, which is a high, dry interior desert with cactus, rattlesnakes and long, sunny days. Pentage's highly regarded products aren't available in the province's licensed liquor stores. But they can be purchased in restaurants, on Pentage's website and by customers who drive through its gates and up a narrow, winding road that leads to the home of owners Paul Gardner and Julie Rennie. They produced and sold about 3,000 cases of half a dozen different wines last year - ranging from pinot gris to sauvignon blanc, gamay noir and their own Pentage - and believe they will make about 4,500 cases this year. Mr Gardner, 45, is a marine engineer whose first career was keeping ships running. On a visit to the area, he fell hard for the romantic appeal of the life of a vineyard owner and winemaker. He and Ms Rennie bought the 9.3 hectares they now occupy about 20 years ago, and he brought an engineer's orderly mind and thoroughness to the new enterprise. He made a careful study of the cultivation of vines and wine-making, and has developed an enviable reputation as an accomplished vintner. Pentage isn't as well known as some of the larger wineries in the valley but its customers are loyal and its wines sell briskly. Mr Gardner and Ms Rennie are part of a larger renaissance of wine making in the British Columbia interior. The first vines were planted in 1926, and by 1930 a small table-grape and wine industry had been established. The region proved an ideal location for vineyards. The storms that rage across the Pacific dump their damp loads on Vancouver; by the time they have crossed the Coast Mountains, they have been wrung dry. The interior plains and valleys, like the Okanagan, lie in that rain shadow, which makes them hot and arid. But the absence of rain doesn't mean there isn't any water. Skaha and Okanagan lakes lie at the bottom of the valley. Most of the vineyards are located on terraces that rise from their shores. Today, those wineries bottle some of the most celebrated wines in the country. You couldn't have said that about the wines produced in the Okanagan in the 1970s. The early wineries planted high-yielding hybrid vines whose grapes were made into plonk, which was priced for and favoured by hardcore street alcoholics. In the 1980s, the provincial government offered vineyard owners a subsidy to pull up their hybrids and plant high-quality vines. Many did so and began making astonishingly good wines. They, and newcomers such as Mr Gardner and Ms Rennie, have since transformed the industry - and the reputation of the Okanagan itself.