Home | History | Pioneers |Her Wines | Sitemap |Regions | Icewine

DR Harry McWatters

Mr. Harry McWatters is a legend in the world of the British Columbia Wine Wine Industry. He is perhaps best known as the founder of Sumac Estate Winery in 1980 and as the director of the British Columbia Wine Institute from its beginning in 1990. He also founded See YA Latter Ranch. Harry has been and remains a vital leader in developing quality standards for wine growing, winemaking, and wine marketing in the province. 

In the Spring of 2000, Sumac Ridge Estate Wine Group was sold to Vincor Canada ( now Constellation Brands) and McWatters continued as president of Sumac Ridge and See Ya Later Ranch as well as being Vice-President of Vincor Canada. Harry “retired” as President of Sumac Ridge Estate Winery effective April 30, 2008. On May 1, 2008, Harry established Vintage Consulting Group Inc. and the Okanagan Wine Academy. He is currently co owner of Time Estate Winery on Black Sage Road.


Mr McWatters and Lloyd Schmidt
purchase Sumac Ridge Golf Course

Harry started at Casabello Wines in 1968 heading up their sales department. In 1978, he was promoted to Director of Marketing and transferred to the Okanagan Valley. Harry has been a driving force in the development of British Columbia's wine industry. In 1980, he led a group of wineries and local businesses to establish the Okanagan Wine Festival Society and acted as founding president. The society completed its 30th annual fall wine festival in 2010 and is listed as one of the “Top 100 Events in North America.” In 1990, he was appointed by the province of British Columbia to chair the newly formed British Columbia Wine Institute, a position which he held for five years and served as a Director for 17 years. An industry association that represents winery operators and grape growers, the institute was formed to help guide industry through the trade challenges presented by GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement).

Harry is the founding chair of the British Columbia Wine Institute. In addition, he is the founding chair of the British Columbia Wine Information Society. He is also a Director of the Canadian Vintners Association, founding Chairman of VQA Canada and is the founding Chairman of the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation.

Harry was also instrumental in founding VQA Canada, a trade association that spearheaded the development of national wine standards for Canadian vintners and served as the first Chairman. In June 2001, Harry was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Okanagan University College in recognition for the pivotal role he played in the development of both British Columbia's and Canada's wine industry.

The establishment of Sumac Ridge is quite significant as it became one the of Best known wineries in Canada. In 1992 a 115 Acre Vineyard on Black Sage Road was purchased. Here one of the largest vineyard planting in Canada was started. Harry and legendary viticulturist Dick Cleave opted to plant Bordeaux varieties , which most gave little hope of being able to ripen on a regular basis. The vineyard is now one of the best in the Okanagan.

Sumac was the first to develop a commercially successful Okanagan sparkling wine; the first to have a winery restaurant; the first winery in Canada to begin using Meritage on its Bordeaux blends; and the first Okanagan winery to release a $50-a-bottle of time. The winery also helped to popularize Gewürztraminer. The largest selling Canadian Gewürztraminer is Sumac Ridge's Private Reserve.

McWatters was also instrumental in founding VQA Canada, a trade association that spearheaded the development of national wine standards for Canadian vintners. He served as their first Chairman.

Whatever people think of VQA, I firmly believe we would not have built a BC wine industry without it. Today 96% of BC wines are VQA and without it the world wouldn't know we made wine here at all. This is one of the most pivotal things that has happened in the last 25 years! We went from 14 wineries in 1988 to more than 200 today.

In June 2001, McWatters was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Okanagan University College in recognition of the pivotal role he played in the development of both British Columbia's and Canada's wine industry.

Upon retiring from Vincor Mr. Mcwalters almost immediately set up Vintage Consulting Group Inc., a wine industry talent pool he assembled in Penticton. The business also includes the Okanagan Wine Academy in Summerland.

In 2011 he released his first wine bearing his name The McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage.
He also owns a restaurant in Summerland along with his daughter. The Local Lounge • Grille features a 65 seat Grille and an 80 seat patio for all ages; and an adult only (19+) 65 seat upscale Lounge all situated on beautiful Lake Okanagan. We feature a relaxed, casual atmosphere with a stunning mix of natural textures and colours.

In 2003 Dr McWatters was awarded the Order of British Columbia, for outstanding achievement

Dr. Harry McWatters Bio

 

Home | Sitemap | Advertise | Contact Us | ©2014 Robert A Bell