The annual Spirited Industry Professional Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The Festival solicits nominations from across the province to recognize Spirited Industry Professionals who have made a significant and indisputable impact upon British Columbia wine culture.
Harry McWatters is a 49-year veteran of the British Columbia wine industry. He founded Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, BC’s first estate winery in 1980 and See Ya Later Ranch Estate winery in 1995. After selling both operations to Vincor Canada in 2000, he remained President of Sumac Ridge and See Ya Later Ranch and was a Vice President of Vincor Canada until he “retired” in 2008. Since then he has established the Vintage Consulting Group, launched TIME Estate Winery and the McWatters Collection and co-developed ENCORE Vineyards Ltd. Harry is the founding chair of the BC Wine Institute, VQA Canada, the BC Wine Information Society, and the BC Hospitality Foundation. In 2003 Harry received the prestigious Order of British Columbia for his services to the BC wine industry.
Norman Gladstone entered the import agency business with his own company, Gladstone and Company Wine Imports, after having worked overseas in the beer industry with Whitbread. Fifteen years later he partnered with International Cellars, where he remained until his retirement. He was the Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) president for several terms and spearheaded the long running IVSA/BCLDB baseball tournaments. Known as a man of many words, Norman has been a mentor and mediator to many people in the industry.
Howard Soon has been a trailblazer in the wine business for 35 years beginning with Andres Wines, then Calona Vineyards, and now as head winemaker at Sandhill. Howard was the first BC winemaker to release a series of single vineyard designated wines, the first to produce a Super Tuscan blend, and the first to receive Red, White and Winery of the Year at the Canadian Wine Awards in 2009.
Mark Davidson co-founded the Vancouver Wine Academy and has demonstrated his commitment to the local scene by collaborating with the BC Wine Institute to create a Train the Trainer module for educating restaurant and wine industry staff. He was also the BC representative for the creation of a Canadian National Standard for Wine Service. He is currently the Global Education Director for Wine Australia.
Sid Cross is a wine and food writer and educator, honorary president of the International Wine & Food Society, an officer of France’s Ordre du Merite Agricole, wines committee chair of the International Wine and Food Society in London, England; and the only Canadian to be honoured as a Membre d’Honneur of the L’Academie du vin de Bordeaux.
Richard Carras, Vice President Western Canada of Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants, has been a leader in the wine industry for over 25 years. Inducted into the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association Hall of Fame in 2011, Carras is also a past president of the International Society of Wine Educators.
Jurgen Gothe (1944-2015) saw his wine and food columns run in over 100 publications, as well as a long radio career that included his much-loved tenure as the host of CBC’s DiscDrive. He will be deeply missed.
Anthony Gismondi has been writing on wine since 1983 and has been the weekly wine columnist for the Vancouver Sun since 1989. He is also co-host of the weekly Best of Food & Wine show on AM650 in Vancouver and the man behind www.gismondionwine.com.
John Schreiner is Western Canada’s most prolific wine writer and is the authority on BC wines. Not only does he write, taste and judge wines, he also makes wine.
Christine Coletta of Coletta Consultants, providing marketing, strategic and special event services to the food and wine industries since 1986 and winner of the 2008 Spirited Individual Professional Award.
David Scholefield, wine speaker, teacher and international wine competition judge, winner of the Second Annual 2007 Spirited Industry Professional Award.
Darryl Weinbren, a partner at Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants and a co-founder of VanWineFest, displays the inaugural Spirited Industry Professional Award presented to him at the 2006 Festival.