SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Prominent B.C. wine-industry figure, Harry McWatters passed away July 23 at the age of 74.
A dedicated champion of the B.C. wine industry for more than 50 years, McWatters was the founding chair of the B.C. Wine Institute, VQA Canada, the B.C. Wine Information Society and the B.C. Hospitality Foundation. Most recently, he was president & CEO of ENCORE Vineyards Ltd., which includes labels TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars and the McWatters Collection.
McWatters founded B.C.’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, in 1980. He went on to found See Ya Later Ranch in 1995 before the two wineries were sold to Vincor Canada (now Constellation Brands) in 2000. He remained president of Vincor Canada until he “retired” in 2008. He went on to establish Vintage Consulting Group, launch TIME Winery and the McWatters Collection and co-developed ENCORE Vineyards Ltd.
His achievements within the industry garnered McWatters several awards and recognitions, including the Vancouver International Wine Festival’s Spirited Industry Professional (SIP) Award and the Order of British Columbia.
In an online announcement, TIME Winery indicated that McWatters’ passing was a shock and that he “passed away peacefully in the comfort of his Summerland home during his sleep.”