Veteran vintner Harry McWatters bites into one of the first bunches of grapes to be crushed at TIME Winery in Penticton at the winery’s inaugural crush. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Hundreds attend celebration of life for British Columbia wine industry pioneer

Harry McWatters remembered for love of wine and love of family

Hundreds gathered on Friday afternoon to pay tribute to Harry McWatters, the man known as the grandfather of the British Columbia wine industry.

McWatters died peacefully in his sleep in his Summerland home on July 23, at the age of 74.

His accomplishments in the province’s wine industry included founding Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in Summerland, See Ya Later Ranch in Okanagan Falls and Time Winery in Penticton.

He was also a key figure in forming the B.C. Wine Institute, the Vintners Quality Alliance Canada, the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society and the B.C. Hospitality Foundation.

The celebration of life showcased McWatters’ love of wine, with wines for those in attendance and toasts to McWatters’ legacy.

“The family wants smiles, not tears. This is a celebration,” said Albert “Coke” Roth, MC at the event.

Members of the British Columbia wine industry noted McWatters’ tireless dedication to wine.

READ ALSO: B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

READ ALSO: McWatters celebrates fifty years of winemaking

“Harry manifested an almost childlike enthusiasm for the industry,” said Brian Schmidt, the son of McWatters’ Sumac Ridge partner Lloyd Schmidt. “He would go out of his way to stay connected to the industry he cared about.”

John Schreiner, a prolific wine writer, spoke of McWatters’ vision and belief in the wine industry.

“Harry had a vision and he made it happen. Dramatically,” Schreiner said. “Harry was sometimes dramatically ahead of his time.”

Leeann Froese, owner of Town Hall Brands and publicist for McWatters, said he was a gracious, accepting man.

“Everyone was welcome at his table,” she said. “He would make time for anyone, no matter what their station in life.”

Suki Sekhon, a Vancouver-based business leader and philanthropist, spoke of McWatters’ love of life.

“He’d want us to celebrate today,” Sekhon said. “He had a great life and he lived every day to the fullest.”

“He was a man of great passions,” added Mark Lalonde, brother of McWatters’ wife Lisa Lalonde.

His children, Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters, recalled how their father loved and cared about his family.

“His love for his kids and grandkids was unwavering,” Darrien McWatters said.

“This is a celebration,” said Christa-Lee McWatters. “Dad always talked of having a giant party, so thank you all for coming. We miss him and we love him. We are all better for having known him.”

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

Number of Kelowna-linked COVID-19 cases grows to 159

Interior Health reported four new cases region-wide on Friday, 18 remain active

Drowning incidents increase in Okanagan as summer picks up

There are now 23 drownings in the province to date, with four from the Okanagan

Okanagan, Creston cherry and apple farms in need of workers

The worker shortage is due to the COVID-19 restrictions on international travel

New team focuses on troublesome Kelowna properties

Recently, a property owner was handed six tickets amounting to over $2,500

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

North Okanagan ranch needs support to stay afloat

Founded in 1867, a fundraiser has been launched for the Historic O’Keefe Ranch

Video: Enraged man terrifies staff and customers at Shuswap restaurant

Video on Facebook shows the man hurling profanity at workers during the dinner rush on Aug. 7.

Pup stolen from Vernon temporary shelter reunited with owner

Nicola Sanders says her son’s puppy was ‘overjoyed’ to see her owner again

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read