Included in the Wednesday, May 4 print edition is our Women in Business magazine where we highlight South Okanagan women who are making a difference in the community and in the business world. Below is a profile on the McWatters sisters who are featured in the magazine.
The McWatters sisters are continuing their dad’s legacy as true trailblazers in the B.C. wine industry.
Sisters Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters have been chosen among Wine Industry Network’s (WIN) Most Inspiring People of 2021.
Christa-Lee is the general manager and Darrien McWatters is the operations manager at TIME Family of Wines. This award validates and proves that the McWatters sisters are celebrating the work first started by their father, the late Harry McWatters – a founding father of the wine industry in B.C.
“Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters manage to honour their family’s incredible history and legacy in Canadian wine, while fearlessly pushing their brands into the future,” said Kathleen Wilcox of Wine Industry Network.
The McWatters opened the first urban winery in the heart of downtown Penticton in 2018, something that hadn’t been done in the Okanagan. The TIME winery’s setting is in a revitalized movie theatre on Martin Street.
Even though the pandemic, the McWatters were always finding ways to pivot and move forward in a positive way while supporting each other and their staff family.
A large component of their team are women from the winemaker and lead cellar hand to the bookkeeper and hospitality manager, said Christa-Lee.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to work with so many fabulous people that are committed to building our local wine industry. We’ve seen so many changes over the years but one thing that remains constant is the pride, passion and commitment of so many individuals working together to building this amazing region,” she added.
The McWatters sisters added a second winery at the District Wine Village in Oliver last year as well as purchased a vineyard near Osoyoos. The sisters were successful in selling the winery to new owners Ron and Shelley Mayert while maintaining operations.
“We have a lot of plans for 2022. We’ve renovated upstairs to allow for private tastings,” said Christa-Lee. “We’ve kept pivoting and like everyone we’ve struggled with the changing restrictions but rather than sitting still we keep looking at ways to move forward.
Harry McWatters was one of the founding members the province’s wine industry, opening the first operating estate winery in B.C. – Summerland’s Sumac Ridge Winery in 1979. He was also the director of the British Columbia Wine Institute from its beginning in 1990. He passed away unexpectedly in 2019.
“I think dad would be really proud of us,” said Christa-Lee.