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By Ron Edward, Kamloops Winemakers Association

The bottom plaque on the barrel head reads:

In honour of Margret Penney
Founder of the Penticton
Harvest and Grape Fiesta

Photo courtesy of Ron Edward

BCW Trophy The plaque on the base reads:

Presented in acknowledgment of the production of
excellent red and white wines made from British Columbia grown grapes


The history of the trophy is a long and most interesting one.

The actual trophy was first created and awarded at the Penticton Harvest Fiesta in 1972 but didn’t become part of the BCAWA awards until 1996. However, the history of BCAWA was closely tied into this award from the start.

The serious beginnings of BCAWA started taking place in 1971 when about 150 winemakers from nine different clubs Revelstoke, Trail, Merritt, Victoria, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Vancouver, Abbotsford and Penticton attended the 1971 Penticton Harvest and Grape Fiesta. .

At a festive gathering of these amateur winemakers on the S. S. Sicamous on the evening of September 25th 1971, a proposal was made to consider some sort of provincial organization. Dennis Culver, of the North Vancouver club, was asked to form a committee to look into this. The idea was that such events as conferences and competitions could be co-ordinated within such a framework.

In 1972 John Vielvoye, Provincial Grape Industry Specialist for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, again invited all the "amateur clubs" in the province to come to the Okanagan and offered to give them a tour of some of the vineyards.

So once more in 1972 home wine makers from 10 different clubs: Alan and Hazel Harris (Cordova Bay), Sonia and Gordon Garlinge (Burnaby), Charles Plant and Tom Robinson (VAWA - Vancouver ), Gordon Kerr and Desmond Reigh (Penticton), Margaret and Jock Fairholm (Bacchus Alumni, Abbotsford), Dick Dixon and Franz Brunnhofer (North Vancouver – VINOVAN), Mike Knight and Garth Ray (Chilliwack Zymurgy), Ian Ogden and Bob Gibson (Coquitlam), Les Tarnai (Quesnel) and Bill Ferguson and Wilma Sjodin (Revelstoke). Joan Ferguson (Revelstoke) and Harvey Edwards (Penticton) and many others from across the province gathered in Penticton and once again entered their wines in the Penticton Harvest & Grape Fiesta. The fact that many of these founding clubs are still active after 28 years says a lot for these organizations and their members.

Penticton was the only place in the interior where a competition took place involving the grape and wine industry with a trophy being awarded. The award was presented to the persons making the best red wine and best white wine from B.C. grown grapes. This was, obviously, to promote the young wine industry in the province.

1972 - The Awarding of the first "Ministry of Agriculture Home Wine Making Competition Award" Mrs. Margaret Penny (Award Caretaker), Desmond Reigh (Best BC Red), Mary Serwa, (President B.C. Grape Growers Assoc., Charles Plant (Best BC White) & John Vielvoye (Creator of the award).

Photo courtesy of Charles Plant.

This group of keen amateur winemakers toured many vineyards, had some meetings, picked grapes, danced, had a great time and over the weekend accomplished much of the work that would complete the formation of the B.C. Amateur Winemakers Association on September 16th, 1972.

Prior to this event, John Vielvoye, approached the then Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Cyril Shelford, with a request to have the Department donate a trophy to promote the use of B.C. grapes by amateur wine makers in British Columbia. His advisors and department senior executive advised Mr. Shelford against it, because every other industry would be asking for a trophy for something. So Cyril then generously paid for the trophy out of his own pocket.

John Vielvoye had the idea of the barrel end trophy and had it made. The Association of B.C. Grape Growers also awarded a silver wine goblet to each of the winners that they could keep. Their president at the time was Mary Serwa. who would later become a leading placard bearer against the Land Commission Act, and later a councillor of the City of Kelowna.

The trophy was to be returned for the following year’s competition where it was kept in the capable hands of Mrs. Margaret Penny, then Chair of the grape and wine section of the Penticton Harvest and Grape Fiesta. She faithfully cared for the trophy until the Penticton Harvest & Grape Fiesta folded in 1995, the final year the event was held in Okanagan Falls.

At that time John Vielvoye picked up the trophy from her at her home at 115 Seacrest Place, Penticton, B.C. V2A 3B7 plus a cheque for $100 and two goblets that were left over. The money and the goblets were returned to the Association of B.C. Grape Growers and the trophy was given to the care of BCAWA for its annual awarding for the Best BC Red and Best BC White wines, via Bill Collings, who was the president of the association at that time.

This trophy, with only a few modifications, has survived to this day and has been awarded to the maker of the best red and white wines made from B.C. gown grapes from 1972 to 1995 at the Pentiction Wine Fiesta and from 1996 to the present BCAWA has presented this award for the best BC Red & White Wines entered in the annual BCAWA Provincial Competition.

In looking over the winners names on this prestigious award several significant achievements can be identified. Bill Collings won both the BC White and BC Red in the same year on two occasions, 1991 & 1993, while Tony Pearson did the same on one occasion, 1990. Quite the achievement. Charles Plant who won in 1972, the first year the award was made, repeated the win in BC White 28 years later in 2000 with a gold medal Chardonnay. There was a lot of wine making between those two wins. Several other names appear twice, along with all the other winners in the 28 year old history of this award.

At the May 2000 BCAWA AGM the Kamloops Winemakers Assoc. presented a motion that was passed by the membership, that this trophy be placed in the Kelowna Wine Museum for permanent safekeeping, as it is a large trophy that is difficult to transport around the province to the homes of the two winners each year without the risk of loss or damage. The winners of this award will receive certificates or small keeper trophies along with a photo of the original trophy in recognition of their achievements.

The creator of this trophy, John Vielvoye of Kelowna, assisted by Kamloops Winemaker Assoc. members Ron Edward and Bill Rideout, made the arrangements for the transport of the trophy to the Wine Museum and ensured that it is properly displayed.

This location provides a safe home for the trophy, with all its past history and the current winners that will be added each year. It will now will now be seen and enjoyed by many more people, and who knows, it could inspire others to try their hand at home wine making.

Best BC Red

1972 D. Reigh
1973 A. Bouvier
1974 C. Docherty
1975 A. Bouvier
1976 C. Feitz
1977 J. Steel
1978 No Winner
1979 C. Docherty
1980 No Winner
1981 R. Neil
1982 C. McLean
1983 R. Neil
1984 D. Fry
1985 No Winner
1986 R. House
1987 G. Lang
1988 E. Makela
1989 R. Thomas
1990 T. Pearson
1991 B. Collings
1992 J. Wahlgren
1993 B. Collings
1994 D & K Jones
1995 No Winner
1996 M & M Dragani
1997 D & K Jones
1998 G. Gibson
1999 B. Rideout

2000 D&K Jones
2001 Ken Marson
2002 Mike Dragani
2003 George Gibson
2004 D&K Jones

Bill Rideout, 1999 winner of the B.C. Red Wine category.

Photo courtesy of Ron Edward

Best BC White

1972 C. Plant
1973 B. Johnston
1974 R & J Stoner
1975 W.O. Marble
1976 O. Sikorsky
1977 B. Demonty
1978 W. Robinson
1979 R. Thomas
1980 D. Alley
1981 O. Sikorsky
1982 No Winner
1983 D. Allan
1984 R. Murfitt
1985 R. Lincoln
1986 R. McNeil
1987 G. Lang
1988 T. Pearson
1989 B. Collings
1990 D. Novak
1991 B. Collings
1992 D. Novak
1993 B. Collings
1994 D. Novak
1995 No Winner
1996 R. Homer
1997 G. Gibson
1998 J. Schreiner
1999 H. Berner
2000 Charles Plant
2001 Bill Collings
2002 Doug Burr
2003 John Routledge
2004 Glen Pope


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