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.

Just Posted

Year-round training envisioned for Salmon Arm’s Rapattack base

Mayor hopes council’s support of Rapattack will pay off in longevity for base

Letter: Better fix needed than what’s proposed for Balmoral Road/Highway 1 intersection

Province already behind on widening of Trans-Canada Highway

Salmon Arm approved for worker based in Vernon to support homeless

While application to Ministry of Social Development gets nod, one to BC Housing denied

Column: Potentially valuable WorkSafeBC review let down by bias

Notes from the Legislature by Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo

Boil water notice rescinded for Yard Creek Campground

Interior Health water testing shows acceptable levels of bacteria

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Okanagan Nation bringing overdose awareness to Syilx Okanagan communities

The Purple Ribbon Campaign for International Overdose Awareness Day is Aug. 28

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

UPDATE: Crown cross-examines B.C. father accused of killing daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Most Read