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That’s ‘Dr. McWatters’ to you


In the 1970s and ’80s Summerland’s Harry McWatters was instrumental in helping nurse B.C.’s wine industry from producer of plonk to producer of world-class premium wines.

And now he’s a full fledged doctor.

On June 9 Okanagan University College presented an Honourary Doctor of Laws Degree to McWatters for his pivotal role in the development of the B.C. wine industry.

"Harry has demonstrated outstanding service to his community," OUC President Dr. Katy Bindon said. "He has shown vision, leadership and commitment. It is a pleasure to be able to honour him in this manner. Harry recognized a need to act, to serve interests larger than his own. He has made a mark on the international scale that has helped the rest of us to understand issues and opportunities in a way we hadn’t before."

McWatters and a partner founded Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, the first estate winery in B.C., in 1979. He is still president of Sumac Ridge, as well as president of Black Sage Vineyards and president of Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards. But it’s for his work in the industry, helping improve the quality and reputation of B.C. wines, that he is best known.

In 1990 he was appointed by the province to chair the newly formed British Columbia Wine Institute, an industry association that represented both winery operators and grape growers. The institute was formed to help guide the industry through the trade challenges that GATT and NAFTA brought. The industry grew and continues to flourish in the post-Free Trade era when many had predicted its demise.

McWatters is also founding chair and current president of the British Columbia Wine Information Centre, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Vintners Association, founding chair of Vintners Quality Alliance of Canada, and founding chair of the Okanagan Wine Festival.

"I am honoured to be recognized today," McWatters said, "but I am pleased to do so on behalf of all of those that have developed the wine industry in the Okanagan with me, such as the Heiss, Gehringer and the Stewart families. Other pioneers that have made such contributions are Evan Lougheed, the Capozzi family and growers like Dick Cleave, that had the foresight to develop this area as a viticultural region."

Bad Energy

If a drink called "Vodka Red Bull" is as familiar to you as "Gin & Tonic" then you’ll know what this is all about.

Nutritionists in the United States are warning party goers who like to mix energy drinks with alcohol that the combination can be dangerous, because it masks just how drunk you are becoming. Using the term "wide-awake drunks," they say the stimulants keep people up and keep them drinking, sometimes with way worse results than a severe hangover.

And there’s no shortage of those new beverages out there, with the energy drink market doubling over the past year. So unless you go by the philosophy "the liver is evil and must be punished," watch your alcohol intake.

Breasts exams all good

Health experts in British Columbia are suggesting women ignore a new report claiming breast self-examination (BSE) for cancer can do more harm than good, and continue with the practice. The report, published in Tuesday's Canadian Medical Association Journal by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, says women who practice BSE are no more likely than other women to detect cancer in its early stages.

However the B.C. Medical Association says self-exams do find potentially tumorous lumps, are still valuable and saves lives. It also involves women in their own health care.