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The Founder’s Award was established in 1985 by Harry McWatters. This award recognizes outstanding and selfless contributions to the wine and grape growing industry and is given each year as an acknowledgment to pioneers of British Columbia wine. The award is open to all who impact the BC wine industry in a significant way. Recipients represent all sectors of the industry.

As the Founding President of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, Harry was ineligible to receive the award during his lifetime. Sadly, Harry passed away in 2019, and last year he was presented the Founder’s Award as a posthumous homage. To further honour Harry’s legacy, the award was renamed the “Harry McWatters Founder’s Award.”  

By nomination process, the award recipient is determined in Fall of each year and is announced at the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards Ceremony. 

Past Recipients

Tim Pawsey, 2021
Rafe Mair, 2020
Harry McWatters, 2019
Christine Coletta, 2018
Sandra Oldfield, 2017
Stephen Cipes, 2016
Jurgen Gothe, 2015
Leo Gebert, 2014
Don Triggs, 2013
Lanny Martiniuk, 2012
John Vielvoye, 2011
Bill Collings, 2010
Gehringer Family, 2009
Anthony von Mandl, 2008
Les Adams, 2007
Adolf Kruger, 2006
Dave Gamble, 2005
Frank Whitehead, 2004
W.M.(Bill) Cross, 2003
John Schreiner, 2002
Rick Thorpe, 2001
Marjorie King, 2000
Connie Bielert, 1999
Howard Soon, 1998
Lynn & John Bremmer, 1997
Richard Cleave, 1996
Michael Warren, 1995
Maurice Gregoire, 1994
The Heiss Family, 1993
Ron Taylor, 1992
The Hughes, Dulik, Schmidt, Casorso Families, 1991
The Capozzi Family, 1990
Dick Stewart, 1989
Evans Lougheed, 1988
Tony Biollo, 1987
Lyall Denby, 1985

Anthony Gismondi: A reimagined Okanagan Fall Wine Festival
October 16 2023
Anthony Gismondi: A reimagined Okanagan Fall Wine Festival

The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is reimagining itself, moving to a post-crush time-slot and offering elevated experiences throughout the Okanagan...

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Welcome Back to the Okanagan during the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival
September 25 2023
Welcome Back to the Okanagan during the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival

(KELOWNA, BC) – September 22, 2023: As we say goodbye to summer and usher in the fall in the Okanagan Valley, we welcome back the Okanagan...

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September 11 2023
Wildfires scared away summer tourists; how to get them back in fall

This article has been contributed by INFOnews.ca Read the original article here or below Original Article The Thompson Okanagan Tourism...

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Announcing the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year
June 15 2023
Announcing the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year

(KELOWNA, BC) – The 44th Annual Okanagan Spring Wine Festival presented by Valley First wrapped up last weekend with the much-anticipated...

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BC Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards

British Columbia's oldest and most prestigious wine judging competition that recognizes excellence in winemaking for all British Columbia wineries.

Meet our Members

The Okanagan Wine Festival Society is made up of a number of Okanagan wineries and tourism related businesses. Every member is recognized as an outstanding service or product supplier in their related industry.


We’re proud to produce 3 seasonal festivals with over 100 events annually and an annual wine competition in the Okanagan Valley – one of the world’s most renowned wine regions.

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