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Harry McWatters, Founder

Harry McWattersHarry McWatters is a leader in the thriving British Columbia wine industry of which he has been involved for the past 40 years. He was founder of Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, founder of See Ya Later Ranch Estate Winery. 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.

McWatters 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 27th annual fall wine festival in 2007 and is listed as one of the “Top 100 Events in North America.”

McWatters 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 VQA Canada and is the founding Chairman of the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation.

Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, started by McWatters in 1979, was British Columbia's first estate winery. 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 the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement).

McWatters 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, McWatters 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.

McWatters started on at Casabello Wines in 1968, and he transferred to the Okanagan Valley in 1978 and lives with his family in Summerland.

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Significant Accolades