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 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.

“We are very pleased to be able to support this award in memory of George Hanson,” said TOTA CEO Ellen Walker-Matthews. “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.”

After a career in telecommunications, George 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.

Those future viticulturists looking to follow in his footsteps can learn more about the College’s Viticulture Certificate at The popular program starts in January at the Penticton campus. Students gain the skills and knowledge needed master the art and science of grape growing, and gain the vineyard operation and management skills needed to start and thrive in the industry.

Viticulture students interested in applying for the award are encouraged to do so through the College’s Financial Aid and Awards application portal on their myOkanagan account. General information for applying for awards at OC can be found at

“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 associate dean Jonathan Rouse.