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Wine pioneer's celebration of life to take place in Penticton

The founder of Sumac Estate Winery and Okanagan wine industry icon, Harry McWatters, has died.
The founder of Sumac Estate Winery and Okanagan wine industry icon, Harry McWatters, has died.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Leeann Froese

KELOWNA - A celebration of life for wine industry pioneer Harry McWatters will take place Aug. 9, 1:30 p.m. at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

McWatters died on July 24 at the age of 74, in his Summerland home. In the days since his passing, an outpouring of grief has been offset by the appreciation for all that McWatters did for the wine industry.

Recently, the head of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association said that McWatters accomplishments were a testament to his perseverence.

"While we applaud all that Harry accomplished throughout his life and certainly over the past 40 years, I cannot help but reflect on those days and nights when he had setbacks and worries that may have deterred a less determined individual. Never underestimate the amount of sacrifice,  disappointment and perseverance that comes with blazing a trail, driving an industry, and being a true entrepreneur," wrote Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA President & CEO.

"Without question as the years go by, this man will be revered as a pioneer and his legend will live on but more importantly I hope he will be remembered as a man, a very determined man. I hope he will be seen by those that follow in the decades to come as an example of what you can grow out of one tiny vine if you are focused and brave enough to do so. Harry will be remembered today and into the future as a legend, but I will remember him as the real thing."

Leeann Froese was his publicist for decades and attested to his perserverence and how he was able to balance it with warmth.

"He was kind, humble and generous, personifying hospitality. He loved his family, friends, and a good joke; and he inspired so many throughout his life," wrote Froese.

"I have so many memories accumulated since I first met Harry in 1997 - and many life lessons he imparted including “it’s better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission”, and that every occasion should start with sparkling wine, while you are deciding what wine you want to open with your meal."

She said he loved a good joke and had boundless energy.

"He just didn’t stop, and now with his passing I confirm that he had only two speeds: on, and off," she said.

"He loved to host parties and dance, and swim and fish and snowmobile. He exemplified hospitality with his hosting and welcome to thousands of people over his life. Everyone was welcome at his table."

Harry McWatters accomplishments outlined.
Harry McWatters accomplishments outlined.
Image Credit: Town Hall Brands

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