Meet Our Team

HomeAbout UsMeet Our Team

Gina Fernandes Harfman

Owner/Winemaker

Gina is owner, winemaker and leader of the uniquely all-female 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.

In 2006, when Denice and Bruce Hagerman established Oliver Twist Estate Winery and vineyard, Gina was 27 and had tried 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 Denice Hagerman with crush at Oliver Twist.  In 2012, while on the bottling line with the Hagermans, Denice said to Gina “why don’t you buy the winery from us?”  Harfman was shocked, as she was 32 at the time. But 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

Denice Hagerman

Winemaker

Denice and her husband Bruce Hagerman established Oliver Twist Estate Winery and vineyard in 2006 as an investment, their love of land and passion for wine. They purchased an orchard on the Black Sage Bench and planted Kerner, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Syrah, and Merlot.  “As Mark Twain said, ‘invest in land, they don’t make it any more,’” laughs Denice.

Originally from Grande Prairie, AB, Denice has reinvented herself many times. The daughter of a grain farmer, she tried her hand at that for three years in Codesa, AB.  She lived in Edmonton, Kamloops, Ontario, and California and spent three years travelling around North America.

During her journey, she studied Chemistry, was a Corporate Controller, and was even the Director of Ticketing at the Indian Wells Tennis Stadium. That love for science, details, and people made her interested in the wine business.

She immediately felt at home in Oliver where she enrolled in Okanagan College to learn more about viticulture and winemaking.  “I never saw a community as welcoming as the wine community here,” she says. “And now to share my passion of winemaking every day with Gina, it’s a pleasure!”

It was a difficult decision to move to Vancouver Island for a quiet retirement. Lucky for us, Denice couldn’t quit cold turkey and makes the journey back to Oliver to join us each fall for crush.

Her favourite wine? Kerner, without hesitation. “When I first came to Oliver and started to look at real estate and taste wines, I tried a Kerner from Carriage House. I knew right away that I could make it well, and that’s what I set out to do.”  Kerner is Oliver Twist’s top seller, so we know she has succeeded!

Winemaker Denice Hagerman

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 bright, crisp Unoaked Chardonnay and savoury, characterful Syrah are her favourites. “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

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