In honour of founding chair, we have created THE HARRY McWATTERS LEGACY FUND.
The ‘Grandfather of British Columbia Wine’, Harry McWatters, passed away peacefully in his Summerland home on July 23, 2019 at the age of 74.
Best known for his wine industry contributions, he lived a full life outside of the public eye. A family man, Harry is survived by his soul mate and wife Lisa Lalonde; his two children, Christa-Lee and Darrien; his first wife Cathie of 40 years; and grandsons, Brendan and Connor. He is also survived by his siblings, Beth Jackson, Vic Eggins, and Ronine Sharp; nieces and nephews; and a large extended family.
Kind, humble and generous personifies Harry. He loved his family, friends, and a good joke. If you become Harry’s friend, you were his friend for life. Harry loved a good party. His favourite things were to spend time with his family, snowmobiling at Hatheume Lake, and fishing at Langara Lodge.
Harry exemplified hospitality: generous with his time, knowledge, and passion. His entrepreneurial spirit was embodied in his larger than life persona. Harry knew marketing and how to relate to people from a very young age. With a vision and confidence, Harry has been a driving force in the British Columbia and Canadian wine industry for more than 50 years, starting at Casabello Wines in 1968. In 1980, Harry became the founder of British Columbia’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge and followed with See Ya Later Ranch. He was a pioneer in establishing the Okanagan Wine Festival Society. In 1990, Harry was appointed by the province of British Columbia to chair the newly formed British Columbia Wine Institute. He was the founding Chair of the British Columbia Wine Information Society, founding Chair of Vintners Quality Alliance of Canada spearheading national wine standards, founding Chair of the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation, and a long term Director on the Canadian Vintners Association. Most recently, he was the President and CEO of ENCORE Vineyards (Evolve Cellars in Summerland and TIME Winery & Kitchen in Penticton), and loved working alongside his children to see these projects come to life and thrive as they are today.
His wish is that we all raise a glass of British Columbia VQA wine in celebration of living life out loud.