George Hanson seen here on the deck of his winery Seven Stones. (Facebook)

George Hanson seen here on the deck of his winery Seven Stones. (Facebook)

TOTA commemorates Cawston winemaker’s legacy with Okanagan College bursary

Seven Stones winery owner George Hanson died suddenly in February

Well known winemaker George Hanson, who died in February, was widely acknowledged for his efforts to grow the B.C. wine scene.

A new award funded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) will commemorate his legacy, while helping a viticulture student at Okanagan College to cultivate their future in the industry Hanson so dearly loved.

TOTA has donated $1,500 to create the George Hanson Memorial Bursary, which will be open to students in the College’s Viticulture Certificate program starting in January. The viticulture program is located at the Penticton campus.

Hanson was the owner and winemaker at Seven Stones Winery in Cawston.

“We are very pleased to be able to support this award in memory of George Hanson,” said Ellen Walker-Matthews, CEO of TOTA. “George’s legacy of excellence will live on in the high bar he set for future grape growers and wine makers, such as those coming out of Okanagan College. George is dearly missed, and we hope this award will plant a seed of inspiration in the heart of a budding viticulturist.”

“George Hanson was truly larger than life and will be remembered as someone who left an inspirational legacy in the Okanagan wine and tourism industry,” said Jonathan Rouse, associate Dean for the school of business and director of food, wine and tourism at Okanagan College.

After a career in telecommunications, Hanson arrived in the Similkameen Valley in 1999 with the goal of following his dream of winemaking. The rest is B.C. wine history.

He purchased a 20-acre parcel of land near Cawston and planted Bordeaux varietals. Four years later, he released his first vintage. A few years after that, he formalized and built what would become Seven Stones winery. By the time he retired in 2019, Hanson and his wines had garnered international attention and awards—cementing his place as a pioneer in the industry and a respected name among B.C.’s acclaimed winemakers.

Seven Stones reds are aged longer than most wines, adding to the texture and depth.

The winery produces about 4,200 cases from hand-picked grapes that are grown on site. The wines are barrel aged in underground caves that Hanson built with his step-son. The caves have served many unique winemaker dinner experiences that Hanson loved hosting.

Condolences poured in from all over B.C. after the sudden passing of Hanson.

Those future viticulturists looking to follow in his footsteps can learn more about the College’s Viticulture Certificate at www.okanagan.bc.ca/viticulture-certificate.

The popular viticulture program starts in January at the Penticton campus. Students gain the skills and knowledge needed to master the art and science of grape growing, and gain the vineyard operation and management skills needed to start and thrive in the industry.

READ MORE: Condolences pour in for beloved winemaker

BC WinePost-secondary Education