Maverick, Visionary, Mentor, Legend, Leader, Friend — Harry McWatters was all this and so very much more. This week we celebrated his larger than life, life.
Wine writers across North America have paid tribute to Harry, following his passing on July 23, with Anthony Gismondi and Kasey Wilson devoting their BC Food & Wine Radio show last week to his legacy and speaking of how he galvanized the wine industry. Eric Degerman of Great Northwest Wine Magazine wrote of the lion of British Columbia wine. John Schreiner has noted Harry’s unique ability to see beyond the horizon. Shelley Boettcher for the Globe & Mail, previously wrote of the man who put B.C. on the International wine map. Rick VanSickle said “We are all the richer from his many contributions, and the extensive and profound impact he has had on his province, community, and industry”. Tim Pawsey commented, “If Harry wasn’t the genesis of the modern BC industry, indeed the Canadian wine industry, I’m not sure who was. There’s good reason we call him ‘The Godfather’ of BC Wine.” The Vancouver Sun wrote of the beloved pioneer and Daenna Van Mulligen for Montecristo Magazine aptly described him as “the heart of B.C. wine”.
At Township 7, we were fortunate to have Harry’s sage advice when were just getting started, with original owners Gwen and Corey Coleman working for him at Sumac Ridge Winery to learn the ropes of the industry prior to our opening back in 2001, and in the many years since with invaluable input to our team. We have also been lucky to purchase Chardonnay grapes from his renown Sundial Vineyard, (now called Becker Vineyard), the most decorated vineyard site in Canada.
For our GM Mike Raffan and myself, he was a dear, dear friend who will be sorely missed. Cheers to a life well lived, Harry, we are all better for having known you. We raise a glass of British Columbia bubbly in your honour!