Meet Our Team

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Gina Fernandes Harfman

Owner/Winemaker

Gina is owner, winemaker and leader of the team at Oliver Twist Estate Winery. 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 Oliver Twist in 2010.  In 2012 Harfman took over ownership of Oliver Twist 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, Oliver Twist 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 Oliver Twist wine any time, 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!”

Owner/Winemaker Gina Fernandes 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 Oliver Twist Estate Winery 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 also teaches the occasional BC wine class at the local Vinstitute.

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 Oliver Twist 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

Brendan Miu

Assistant Winemaker

Brendan is the brave first man to rise to the challenge working at Oliver Twist Estate Winery. He brings with him a degree in Materials Engineering, a Master of Oenology degree from University of Adelaide, and five years of international winemaking experience with exceptional producers.

Brendan’s winery work spans Australia, New Zealand, California and British Columbia and his journey in the wine industry has been guided by passion and quality. He has gravitated towards smaller wineries focused on growing and vinifying select varieties to a high standard.

“I appreciate Oliver Twist’s focus on the varieties that grow best in the South Okanagan. After two harvests at Laughing Stock Vineyards, I understand the virtues of Syrah, Viognier, and Bordelaise reds grown on Black Sage and Osoyoos,” he says.

At Oliver Twist, he’s loving the reds from the 2016 vintage, which was a special growing year in the South Okanagan. 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is his top pick.

“The diversity of Oliver Twist wines, including sparkling, late harvest, and fortified excites me as a wine-lover and winemaker!”

Brendan Miu

Judy Taylor

Tasting Room Associate

 Judy has worked at Oliver Twist Estate Winery since 2011, and if you’ve visited since then, she probably remembers you! In addition to an amazing memory, she also makes the best Sangria, which is sold by the glass during warm months. All this and more makes her Oliver Twist’s most popular staff member — we joke that she has her own fan club!

Judy is originally from Dawson Creek, where she met and married her husband. They have two sons and two granddaughters. The Taylors are classic car buffs, so you might see them cruising around Oliver in their black 1963 Chevrolet Bel Air!

When she’s ready for a glass of wine, Judy reaches for Pinot Gris, Kerner or The Girls Rosé. “It’s hard to choose just one favourite when all the wines are so good!”

Judy Taylor

Teresa Linklater

Tasting Room Associate

Teresa, Oliver Twist’s resident silver fox, is originally from Ontario, and lived on Vancouver Island for 10 years. Since 2018, she spends summers in Osoyoos and winters in Barra de Navidad, Mexico (near Manzanillo) with her husband and their dog. Their adult daughter is in Penticton.

“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 Oliver Twist 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 addition to being an animal lover and a Rotarian, Teresa has a big love of wine and food. Her favourites at Oliver Twist include the Syrah, Rockabilly Red, Merlot and the Unoaked Chardonnay. “I never thought I’d say I’m a Chardonnay fan, but that 2018 vintage won me over!”

Teresa Linklater

Catherine Côté Martel

Tasting Room Associate and Cellar Hand

Catherine swept into Oliver in the summer of 2020 and began to charm colleagues and visitors alike her French-Canadian accent. Prior to her Okanagan adventure, she had been working in Montréal as a sommelière with 10 years of food and beverage industry experience.

“I want to expand my wine knowledge by working in a wine region. Here it’s great experience because I can be part of most parts of the business,” Catherine says.

At Oliver Twist, she’s fallen for the Viognier 2019, Pink Cadillac 2019, and the Kerner wine jelly with Camembert or goat cheese.

“I think it’s fun to work here in a female-run winery, as that is quite a unique and supportive environment!”

Catherine photo

Reilly Thorp

Tasting Room Associate and Cellar Hand

Reilly, originally from North Vancouver, moved to Osoyoos after graduating from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. She started working at Oliver Twist Estate Winery shortly after her move.

“I’ve been coming to Oliver Twist since I was little and could only drink Okanagan Applessence. My Mom is a Twist Club member, so I have great memories of being at the winery and running around the grounds,” says Reilly. When she moved to Osoyoos, it seemed like home to work at the winery.

Reilly loves bold, full-bodied red wines, so she has many favourites here. Top of her list is the 2017 Meritage and 2016 Malbec. She also loves the fun Pink Cadillac and Oliver Twist Viognier is the only white she drinks.

“It’s nice to have a refreshing, chilled Viognier or rosé after a day on the golf course!”

Reilly Thorp