BC's pioneer of the wine industry Harry McWatters died in 2019. He would have been 76 today, May 23, 2021. (Facebook)

Raising a glass to an Okanagan wine legend

Harry McWatters, founder of Sumac Ridge, VQA and more would have been 76 today

Many are raising a glass and toasting to the grandfather of the B.C. wine industry, Harry McWatters who would have been 76 today, Sunday, May 23.

“Heavenly birthday wishes to our founder and Okanagan wine industry pioneer, Harry McWatters, who would have been 76 today. Our wine family takes great pride in honouring Harry’s legacy as we continue to bring our customers exceptional wines paired with engaging wine and food experiences,” wrote Evolve Cellars on their Facebook page.

Harry McWatters, is the founder of B.C.’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge. McWatters was instrumental in creating the B.C. Wine Institute and VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance Canada). He died in July 2019 in his Summerland home at the age of 74.

According to a Facebook post by TIME Winery and Kitchen, which was co-owned by McWatters, he passed away peacefully in his sleep.

His daughter Christa-Lee McWatters has carried on his legacy. Christa-Lee is the general manager for Five Vines Cellars, home to award-winning wine brands TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars and McWatters Collection.

Harry was also part of founding the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society along with many other accomplishments.

One week before he died, McWatters was celebrating the success and anniversary of TIME Winery, the first urban winery in the Okanagan.

“His imprint on the Canadian wine industry is immeasurable,” said Jay Wright, president and CEO of Arterra Wines Canada at the time of his passing in 2019.

“We are deeply saddened by the news and our thoughts are with the McWatters family at this time. We will be raising a glass in our founder’s honour today.”

READ MORE: B.C. wine industry legend dies

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