forward, a marketing visionary and a passionate advocate for
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.
I have so many memories accumulated since I first met
McWatters in 1997 – and many life lessons he imparted includ-ing,
“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.
He loved a good joke. In the early 2000s he was the king of
the email forward. How he found time to fart around and send
jokes out, I will never know. As I was in the midst of my work day a
cheesy email would roll in and I’d have to work through the string
of code and forwards embedded in the email to get to the punch-line.
He also loved to pull pranks on others and poke fun.
And the energy. He just didn’t stop, and now with his passing,
I confirm that he had only two speeds: on and off.
He loved to host parties and dance, and swim and fish and
snowmobile. He exemplified hospitality with his hosting and wel-come
to thousands of people over his life. Everyone was welcome
at his table. Anyone who was fortunate enough to talk wine (or
anything else) with McWatters knows he was generous with his
time and his knowledge. He loved nothing more than to share a
laugh and a story with anyone he met
As his publicist, I love that he would meet with anyone I asked
him to, and he would make time for anyone, no matter their sta-tion
His communication style was on the phone – so if anyone
needed anything, he was just a phone call away. It did not matter
what time of day or what time zone he was in; he’d call you back if
you needed him.
I appreciate that he trusted me and my counsel, and was up
for all of my PR suggestions; including the time I asked him if he
would be open to a tasting for bloggers in the former morgue!
Unconventional, like McWatters.
McWatters was a PR person’s dream: charismatic, great on
camera and he was excellent at nailing his messages in the time
he was given.
As a lover of bubbly, he has sabered open sparking wine with
everything imaginable. A sword, butter knife, wine glass, shoe, ice
skate and more. The biggest moment of sabering I witnessed was
when we were at the party for Alexandre Bilodeau, the Canadian
freestyle skier who captured the first Canadian Gold Medal dur-ing
the 2010 Olympic Games. McWatters opened a bottle of the
commemorative wine Tribute with a ski, naturally, so we could all
Going way back, my first-ever press conference was in 1999
when McWatters was announcing the sale of Sumac Ridge – he
was deeply concerned that after all of his hard work advocating
for the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) and British Columbia that
people would have a poor opinion of him. But, how could they?
He was congratulated and on his wine career went.
B.C. wine icon and pioneer
McWatters’ first position in the B.C. wine industry began in
1968. His long list of accomplishments include founding the
British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI), VQA Canada and the
Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. He launched the pioneering
winery Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, which released Canada’s
first traditional-method sparkling wine and Canada’s first
Meritage (Bordeaux-style red wine blend). He also founded the BC
He was a member of the Order of British Columbia, inductee
to the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame, two-time Jubilee Medal win-ner
from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the recipient of an
Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
These, among many other accomplishments, have earned
McWatters – passionate, intelligent, outspoken and provocative –
a major place in Canadian wine history.
I N M E M O R I U M
Courtesy of Jamie smith
50 § POURED CANADA § www.poured.ca