Meet Our Team

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Gina Fernandes Harfman


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

Christine Leroux

Winemaking Consultant

From the very first vintage, winemaking consultant Christine Leroux has guided the wines of Oliver Twist Estate Winery, 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 Oliver Twist 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

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 Geography. 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

Daneya Tessaro

Tasting Room Associate and Cellar Hand

Daneya moved South from 100 Mile House to work at Oliver Twist in 2020. As the youngest member of the team, she’s still figuring out how her story will be written.

“I love learning about wine, and I like the idea of working with an all-female team,” she says. She’s also learning a lot about 50s and 60s music, as it’s always on at Oliver Twist.

“Chantilly Lace? I’d never heard that one before!” she laughs.

To wind down, she enjoys The Girls White. She’s also a fan of the 2016 Malbec. “It just smells really good – I love the violet note!”

Daneya Tessaro

Rita Crone

Tasting Room 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 Oliver Twist Estate Winery 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, 2014 Syrah, and 2016 Malbec among her favourites.

Rita Crone