Meet Our Team

HomeMeet Our Team

Gina Fernandes Harfman

Owner/Winemaker

Gina is owner, winemaker and leader of the team at Nostalgia Wines. She’s the fourth generation from her family to sink her hands into South Okanagan soil.  She’s a proud mom to son Jaxson, born in 2011, and daughter Vida, born in 2015. The family lives on the winery’s 17-acre property.

Gina attended Fine Art school in Kelowna, airbrush courses in Las Vegas and was working airbrushing and pinstriping hot rods and motorcycles. She made her first wines with grapes from her father Ken Harfman’s vineyard for a family function in 2009.

“It was a Gewurtztraminer and a Merlot, and I custom pinstriped the labels,” says Harfman. “I had to make a lot of wine, knowing my family. And I loved doing it, so September 2009 I enrolled in Okanagan College to learn more about winemaking.”

She worked at Cassini Cellars as assistant winemaker and began helping with crush at Nostalgia Wines (then called Oliver Twist) in 2010.  In 2012 Harfman took over ownership of the winery when she was just 32 years old. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Gina is a classic car lover, and has a 1961 Chevrolet Bel Air fondly called “Ollie” after its previous owner. Those who have visited the property will remember her 1938 Chevy truck blooming with pink petunias in summer months. Following her love of hot rods, Nostalgia Wines is host to an annual Show, Shine ‘n’ Wine the second weekend of July. It’s an official Collector Car Appreciation Day event.

Gina is happy to accept a glass of any Nostalgia Wine, and her favourite wine to make is Rockabilly Red. “I feel like a mad scientist, trying all the different combinations and percentages of wines in the blend until I get it just right. She’s got to be a rockin’ wine every vintage to live up to her name!”

Gina Harfman

Sheila Whittaker

General Manager

Sheila grew up in Osoyoos as the wine region grew up around her. She moved to Ottawa to pursue a Bachelor in Journalism and from there traveled, lived and worked in Japan, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Montreal and Vancouver before returning to her hometown and joining Nostalgia Wines as the General Manager in March 2019.

She wrote professionally for ten years and worked for a large wine import agency as a marketing director for seven years. Like her appetite for great food and wine, her thirst for knowledge is also insatiable. Her studies in wine include the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) diploma, Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, French Wine Scholar and Italian Wine Scholar.

She first met Gina in Osoyoos Primary School Kindergarten, and they worked together many times growing up (walking dogs, babysitting, scooping ice cream, picking apples and more). After many years of friendship, it was wine that brought them back together in a working relationship.

Sheila has a great love for all wine, and at Nostalgia Wines the savoury, characterful Syrah is her favourite. “I have an ongoing conversation with our Syrah. Every time I try it, it tells me something new about itself. I keep coming back to learn more!”

Sheila Whittaker

Christine Leroux

Winemaking Consultant

From the very first vintage (then called Oliver Twist Estate Winery), winemaking consultant Christine Leroux has guided Nostalgia Wines, and she remains an important member of the winemaking team.

Christine, originally from Montreal, completed her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Quebec at Montreal. In winemaking, she found the perfect way to marry her love of wine and science, but unfortunately, at the time there were no programs of study offered in Canada.

She took a gap year to work and raise money an research her options. She looked at programs in the United States, Australia, and Europe, and decided she would move to France to study at the University of Bordeaux.  After three years of study she received a National Diploma of Enology and followed it with practicums at Petrus and Chateau Margaux, then did some consulting work in Entre-Deux-Mers.

From there, she continued her wine-inspired travel by working a harvest in Australia, then started working with J. Lohr Wines in California. While on a work trip to share J. Lohr wines at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, she was introduced to wines from British Columbia. The serious quality made an impression, and it wasn’t long after that she visited the Okanagan Valley and discovered the region.

In 1996, Inniskillin Okanagan was looking for a winemaker, and Christine accepted the job and moved to B.C. It was an exciting time to get involved in the industry.

“In the late ‘90s, the industry was like a teenager, and was growing so fast. It felt like a big family working with Vincor, which is now Arterra,” she recalls.

After two years with Inniskillin, she had an opportunity to establish the red wine program at Gray Monk Estate Winery. Opportunities kept coming, and soon she was also working with St Hubertus Estate Winery. In 1999 she started consulting with smaller properties and teaching winemaking at Okanagan College.

“I love it. I loved the whole experience studying in France. I love making wine. Starting from scratch every year, because vintages and Mother Nature gives you the grapes – you always have to question yourself,” she says. “No two years are the same – that’s the fun part. You have to adapt yourself to the vintage, like having a new baby every fall.”

From our home vineyard, Christine as a special affinity for the Chardonnay, Viognier and Syrah. “I’m a fan of all the Nostalgia Wines, but this property’s growth is special with these three. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec from family vineyards make exceptional wines too.”

Christine says she always wanted to be an artist, but singing, drawing and acting weren’t her calling. Winemaking is a way for her to express her artistic side.

“You smell, you taste, and you try to mold the wine and make it a reflection of the quality of the Okanagan.”

Christine Leroux

Suzanne Macht

Winemaker

Suzanne Macht grew up in BC and spent most summers visiting her grandparents in Peachland, where they owned a local business since 1968.

She studied biotechnology at BCIT and then earned her winemaking certificate from UC Davis. She gained experience winemaking abroad in New Zealand at Oyster Bay, then her strong ties to the Okanagan brought her back, working at Cedar Creek, Constellation Brands and Tinhorn Creek.

Suzanne is excited to be part of the Nostalgia Wines team. “Nostalgia is a family owned and operated business – the team becomes a family!”

Suzanne is a proud mother to Sophie and they have a golden retriever named Pepper.

Suz and Pepper in Vineyard

Teresa Linklater

Wine Experience Associate

Teresa, Nostalgia Wines’ resident silver fox, is originally from Ontario, and lived on Vancouver Island for 10 years.

“When I was thinking about moving to the Okanagan, I thought a job in a wine shop would be fun,” she says. An opportunity at Nostalgia Wines crossed her radar and she applied. “When I met Gina and learned more about the winery, I knew it was a perfect fit,” she says. In 2022 she will celebrate her fifth season with Nostalgia Wines!

In addition to being an animal lover and a Rotarian, Teresa has a big love of wine and food. Her favourites at Nostalgia include the Syrah, Rockabilly Red, Merlot and Chardonnay. “I never thought I’d say I’m a Chardonnay fan, but it won me over!”

Teresa Summer 2021_Nostalgia Merlot 2018

Colleen Madill

Wine Experience Associate

Colleen Madill graduated from the University of Toronto and was ready for an overseas adventure, but due to the pandemic, she decided a Canadian adventure was the better bet. She drove from Toronto to see the Okanagan for the first time, and to start work at Nostalgia Wines in 2021.

Colleen’s interest in winemaking and strong interpersonal skills make her a great asset to the team, and we’re excited to welcome her back in 2022.

Colleen

Rita Crone

Wine Experience Associate

Rita’s long distance love affair with the Okanagan went on for decades before she finally moved to Osoyoos.

“I love everything about it – the weather, the mountains, the lakes, and the wines of course!” she exclaims with a big smile.

Once she realized her dream of living the Okanagan wine country life, it was time to move on to her next dream: working at a winery! She found the opening at Nostalgia Wines and got the job.

“The universe coordinates things for us!” she says of the great timing and fit with the team.

Originally from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, she worked as a social worker and therapist throughout her career. She has a son and three step-children, and 10 grandchildren.

“I love the wines, so it makes it really easy to work here,” she says, naming Kerner, Viognier, The Girls White, Syrah, and Malbec among her favourites.

Rita Crone

Jack Babcock

Wine Experience Associate

Jack left Toronto in search of sun, and when doing his research he discovered that the South Okanagan was not only the warmest place in Canada, but Oliver was the Wine Capital! He was sold and made the move.

Once here in 2020, he joined us for a tasting on our patio and Teresa knew he’d love our Kerner. She was right!

“It is the most fantastic grape varietal wine I’ve had in my entire life,” he says with enthusiasm. He knew then he wanted to work with us, and he was the first person to apply in 2021.

In his previous life he worked in film production, from production assistant to management, sound recording and camera work. A Jack of all trades, one might say!

Besides being a hard core Kerner fanatic, Rockabilly Red with a great food pairing tops his list. He loves to sip this big red alongside a BBQ Portobello mushroom sandwich.

Nostalgia Wines | Jack Babcock