Okanagan wine industry legend Harry McWatters has posthumously added yet another award to his collection.
And this time, it even has his name on it.
The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society’s annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival commenced Oct. 3 with the society’s Founder’s Award being presented to and renamed after Harry McWatters.
McWatters’ family accepted the Harry McWatters’ Founder’s Award on his behalf, in an emotion-filled evening for both the family and McWatters’ team at TIME Winery.
The award recognizes outstanding and selfless contributions to the wine and grape growing industry and is offered as an achievement to pioneers of British Columbia wine.
The award was presented by Christine Coletta, a former winner of the prize, and received by Harry’s children Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters, and his wife Lisa Lalonde.
“First of all, thank you to the entire industry,” said Christa-Lee McWatters, Harry’s daughter, who is now the president and CEO of Encore Vineyards (Evolve Cellars, McWatters Collection, and TIME Winery).
“I am sure that our dad would have been speechless and overwhelmed with emotion, just like we are. It is such an honour to have this award carry on in his name.”
Christa-Lee added that continuing in her father’s legacy has been challenging from both a personal and business perspective.
“Since our dad passed away, we have been sorting out the business, so much of it was in his head. And we know everyone in the industry is watching. They want to see how we are coping. There are rumours swirling around. But there always are. You know what Harry used to always say: if you haven’t heard a rumour in the BC wine industry by 10 a.m., start one.
“I’ve had to make some hard decisions,” she continued. “Like bringing all three of our brands under one roof; and we are limiting how much fruit we crush this year. I believe these decisions, while tough to get through, are right for the business. Simplifying some things gives us some time to re-group, focus, and take the company in the right direction.”
On Oct. 5, TIME Winery and Kitchen was also honoured on with the Farm to Glass award at the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
“We invite you to come and see us at the winery or pick up a bottle of one of our brands. Together we will raise a glass to Harry, the new Founders Award, the legacy he leaves, and the future we will all create in this industry,” said Christia-Lee.