Maria Ferreira, founder of Quinta Ferreira Winery, near Oliver, passed away suddenly on December 19. She was honoured by hundreds in the wine industry. (Contributed)

Okanagan winery founder, Maria Ferreira, honoured

The 64-year-old passed away suddenly on December 19

An influential figure across the South Okanagan wine region was honoured by hundreds of individuals after Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery announced on social media the sudden passing of co-founder, Maria Ferreira.

Surrounding local wineries shared their condolences and spoke to how Ferreira was not only an inspiration to them but also supportive of new wineries in the area.

For 40 years Ferreira worked in the Okanagan, starting with an orchard and transforming it into a successful winery.

The 64-year-old passed away suddenly on December 19. A week later, her funeral was attended by hundreds in the community of Oliver, many of them members and leaders of the wine industry.

“She always had a smile, she was always giving, she was always willing to learn, to help,” said her daughter Christina.

Maria was born in Fundao, Portugal and immigrated to Canada in July 1964 with her family. Growing up in Portugal, the wine was a part of the culture. From a young age, she helped her parents make homemade wine in their basement.

She was also known for her business sense. After moving to Canada, Maria and her husband purchased the orchard and operated it and a packing house for more than 20 years. In the last 20 years, they transformed their property from the orchard into the Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery.

“My parents’ dream was always to own a winery,” said Christina.

Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery is a family affair.

“It’s very family-run,” said Christina. “My brother is the winemaker, my parents are often in the tasting room. The whole concept of coming to the winery was (that) you’re a member of the family. That’s how you’re treated when you come there.”

It’s no secret that Ferreira influenced the wine region.

“(She) ensured the style of the wines is true to the fruit,” said Christina. “Still with that European flavour.”

Throughout the years, Maria engaged with the Portuguese community and the farming community, nurturing many relationships. Outside of wine, Maria was a very active member of the community of Oliver.

On a personal level, Christina said she learned lots from her mother and reflected on morals instilled in her from a young age.

“To always give and share. And she never judged.”

Now, the family is focusing on next steps for Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery. Christina said aside from making the wine, Maria did just about everything, even helping her son make the wine on occasion.

“We are moving forward, of course,” said Christina. “We are going to do the best that we can to continue to give that love, that passion and that friendly customer service that my mom always gave and to continue building those relationships.”

“That was a big thing for my mom. Make everybody feel like you’re a member of the family.”

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