Harry McWatters a pioneer of the B.C. wine industry was the recipient of the Spirited Industry Professional Award at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Submitted photo

Okanagan wine pioneer honoured

Okanagan Valley wine pioneer Harry McWatters was given an award at the Vancouver Wine Festival.

Hailed as the Okanagan Valley’s great wine pioneers, Harry McWatters was presented the Spirited Industry Professional Award at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

McWatters, the CEO and president of ENCORE Vineyards Ltd., is a 50-vintage veteran of the wine industry. He has been credited with building B.C.’s wine industry into the award-winning, internationally-recognized business it is today.

Related: Time has built Okanagan wine industry

The annual Spirited Industry Professional Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia.

McWatters was recognized in front of a crowd of 340 peers in the Canadian wine industry at Celebrating Excellence: the 14th annual Awards Lunch on Feb. 17.

“I’m humbled, I’m honoured, and very proud of all you producers and merchants for making Canada a great wine producing country,” said McWatters.

Starting his investment in the B.C. wine industry in 1968 as a sales manager at Casabello Wines in Vancouver, McWatters moved to the Okanagan in 1977. He founded Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in 1980 and See Ya Later Ranch in 1995. Numerous firsts followed before the two wineries were sold to Vincor (now Constellation Brands) in 2000.

“Harry McWatters is, quite simply, the Robert Mondavi of British Columba wines,” said Tony Aspler, Canadian wine journalist and wine competition judge.

This year, McWatters celebrates 50 vintages in the B.C. wine industry, and showing no signs of slowing down, plans to open the new TIME Winery facility in a revitalized historic building in downtown Penticton this year, which will produce wines under the TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars and McWatters Collection labels.

Related: Urban winery coming to downtown

“Harry has been instrumental in building the BC wine industry into something that is producing serious, quality wines that are growing in reputation around the world,” notes Rhys Pender MW, wine educator, judge, writer and winemaker.

McWatters started in the wine industry at a time when there was just 14 wineries in B.C. and 3,400 acres of grapes in the ground. Today B.C. is approaching 300 wineries and in excess of 11,000 acres of grapes.

Just Posted

Interior Health managers voice discontent

Negative comments about work culture aimed at CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Kelowna - Students were unaware of resources on campus

Video: Bulky bobcat goes for a stroll

Bob Lindley shared a video of a sneaky bobcat strolling through his yard in Vernon.

Cops report explosion in number of thefts from vehicles in Central Okanagan

In just the first 2 1/2 weeks of 2018, the number has nearly tripled in Kelowna and West Kelowna

Kelowna and West Kelowna’s unsolved crimes of the week

RCMP are searching for a fraud suspect and vandal suspect in this week’s unsolved crimes

Kelowna’s Ursel to coach host team at Olympics

Bob Ursel is headed to the Olympics with South Korea’s national men’s curling team

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

EDITORIAL: With harassment allegations, students deserve better at UBCO

The lack of communication with students isn’t good enough for the Kelowna campus

Physical altercation turns to online threats in Celista

Police were called to a Shuswap ice rink after a group of men physically fought each other

Arson suspect heads to court

Vernon man suspected of starting a string of 2014 fires in Vernon

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

Most Read