Harry McWatters, CEO of TIME Winery, enjoyed a glass of the winery’s first ever sparkling wine, TIME brut at the winery’s recently celebrated one-year anniversary earlier this month. The family of McWatters announced his sudden death on July 23. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

The family of Harry McWatters, a legend in the B.C. wine industry and founder of multiple South Okanagan vineyards and wineries, announced his sudden death on July 23. He was 74 years old.

According to a Facebook post by TIME Winery and Kitchen, which was co-owned by McWatters, he passed away peacefully in his sleep in the comfort of his Summerland home. McWatters currently acted as president and chief executive officer of Encore Vineyards.

“Harry’s sudden passing comes as a surprise to all as he was only last week celebrating the success and anniversary of our downtown Penticton winery, TIME Winery and Kitchen,” stated the post. “Currently, we ask that you please respect the privacy of Harry’s family as they experience the shock and magnitude of this loss. Memorial details will be shared when they become available.”

Related:Five decades of making wines

McWatters’ involvement in the B.C. wine industry began decades ago, first as a salesman, then founding Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in 1980. Fifteen years later, he founded See Ya Later Ranch Estate Winery, and went on to sell both wineries in 2000 to Vincor Canada. At the time of the sales, he remained president of both wineries and vice president of Vincor Canada until he “retired” in 2008 to establish Vintage Consulting Group.

According to his profile with Encore Vineyards Ltd., a company for which he co-developed the business model, other accomplishments of McWatters include founding VQA Canada and serving as its first chairman, acting as the founding chair of the BC Wine Information Society and the BC Hospitality Foundation and recently launching TIME Estate Winery and the McWatters Collection.

“Harry received an honourary doctor of laws degree from Okanagan University College and, in 2003, received the prestigious Order of British Columbia for his service to the B.C. wine industry,” states the Encore Vineyards Ltd. website.

Leeann Froese, co-owner of Town Hall Brands: Vancouver Marketing & PR Agency, said she’s known McWatters both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She said that he was passionate not only about his businesses and the wine industry but also about giving back to the greater community.

“It’s been my honour to work with Harry for the past 20+ years. I’ve learned many things from him and he’s inspired many people,” said Froese. “Many of the people in the B.C. and Canadian wine industry owe him a debt of gratitude for the path that he’s laid.”

In the hour since the announcement about McWatters’ death was made on the TIME Winery Facebook page, hundreds of comments have flooded in, both expressing their utmost sympathies to the family and their many thanks to the legend himself.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

Phase three presents new opportunities for Kootenay tourism

Message from MLA Michelle Mungall and MLA Katrine Conroy

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Most Read