BCWA | Who we are
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Who we are

The BCWA is governed by a Board of Directors, all of whom are required to be completely independent of the wine and grape growing industries, and operations are managed by a team of staff members. As well, the BCWA operates a system of taste assessment panels to assess submitted wines and determine if they qualify for “BC VQA” status. These panels are comprised of trained taste assessors, independent of the wine and grape growing industries, who assess each wine by smell and taste to ensure the wines are free from those potential faults.

Board of Directors

Jeffrey Thomas, Chair and Director

Jeffrey Thomas is a lawyer and partner at the national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais. He is the firm’s Regional Co-ordinator for its International Trade and Arbitration Group, Government Relations Group, Competition Group and Business Immigration Group. He holds an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School and an LL.M. (in international trade) from the University of Toronto.


Mr. Thomas practices primarily in the areas of trade, competition and business immigration, where, for over 20 years, he has dealt with legal issues relating to the international movement of goods, services, investment and people. He has advised clients participating in the negotiation of most of Canada’s domestic and international trade agreements (including NAFTA, WTO, AIT, TILMA and NWPTA, as well as the ongoing Canada – EU “CETA” negotiations). He also provides advice on all aspects of Canada’s Competition Act and Investment Canada Act. In the immigration area, his practice focuses primarily on business immigration and international employee movements.


Previously he was an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia Law School where he lectured on international trade and investment law for over nine years. He has spoken and written widely on international and domestic legal issues and has co-authored texts on Canadian trade and investment law and on the WTO (The New Rules of Global Trade: A Guide to the World Trade Organization).


In his spare time, while not dealing with issues relating to the BCWA or studying about wine, he can be found on the soccer pitch trying to coach a team full of boisterous 12-year-old girls.

Laura Thurnheer, Vice-Chair and Treasurer

Ms. Thurnheer received her Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in marketing, from the University of British Columbia in 1984. She then received her BC Provincial Instructor’s Diploma from Vancouver Community College in 2000. Ms. Thurnheer went on to receive her Masters of Business Administration from the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, majoring in Strategic Management in 2007.


Laura is currently a Professor at the Okanagan School of Business at the Okanagan College where she instructs in the Bachelor of Business Administration program. Ms. Thurnheer has also worked as an Organizational Development and Learning Consultant for the University of British Columbia Okanagan, an Entrepreneurship Manager at the Community Futures Development Corporation of the Central Okanagan and as the owner/operator of ‘Above and Beyond’ Training and Consulting, which specializes in the areas of customer service, communications and organizational development.


Laura was President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce in 2007 and has volunteered for a number of organizations including the Central Okanagan United Way Allocations Committee, Kelowna Community Resources Board of Directors, Tourism Kelowna Advisory Committee, Okanagan College’s Principal’s Advisory Committee and as Chair and founding member of the Kelowna Exceptional Service under the Sun Committee.

Judy Bishop, Secretary and Director

More information coming soon.

Christopher P. Weafer, Director
Chris is a lawyer and currently serves as Co-Managing Director of Owen Bird Law Corporation, a full-service Vancouver-based and BC-focused law firm.  He has practiced commercial and regulatory law at Owen Bird since articling at the firm 30 years ago and has been recognized by the legal industry publication Chambers Global as one of “The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business”.  Chris has acted for a broad range of clients ranging from sole proprietorships to the largest privately-owned company in Western Canada, as well as public companies, municipal governments and the Province of British Columbia. In addition to negotiating and drafting commercial agreements, Chris has also represented clients before a number of regulatory bodies, including the British Columbia Utilities Commission and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Chris has particular expertise in regulatory and administrative law and has advised clients on all manner regulatory matters.  He has lectured on broadcasting and telecommunications law at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia faculty of law where he has served as an adjunct professor. Chris has been active in the legal profession and contributes to the Continuing Legal Education’s “Due Diligence – Checklist” publication each year and has served as the National Chair of the Canadian Bar Association, Media and Communications Law section.  He has also served as a director on a number of boards, including Co-Chairing the Jack Webster Foundation and Vice Chair of the North Vancouver Recreation Commission.  Chris has been recognized by one of his long-term clients, the British Columbia Association of Broadcasters, on two occasions with its “Friend of the Industry Award” for service to that province-wide organization.


He and his wife Sandy, also a lawyer, just celebrated 31 years of marriage and reside in North Vancouver.  They have three children, Patrick, a newly called lawyer, Ryan, a real estate analyst, and Alana, a university student.  Chris enjoys wake and snowboarding, biking, golf and BC wine.


Scott Hennenfent, General Manager
Office:  250-494-8896, ext: 103


Lorrie Zander, BC VQA Coordinator
Office:  250-494-8896, ext: 102


Tammey Hodgins, Membership & Grape Grower Coordinator
Office:  250-494-8896, ext: 101


Chris Kavolinas, BCWA Inspector
Office:  250-494-8896, ext: 104


The BCWA also maintains a Wine Industry Advisory Committee, current members are:


  • James Schlosser, Niche Winery – Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys
  • Christine Coletta, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery – Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys
  • Eric von Krosigk, Summerhill Pyramid Estate Winery – mid-sized wineries (250 to 1,250 tons)
  • Andy Johnston, Averill Creek Vineyard – Vancouver Island & BC Gulf Islands
  • Derek Kontkanen, Jackson Triggs (Vincor) – large wineries (over 1,250 tons)
  • Eugene Kwan, Chaberton Estate Winery – Fraser Valley and other regions


BC VQA Assessor

The BC Wine Authority maintains a group of approximately 24 expertly trained Taste Test Assessors from a variety of backgrounds, including sommeliers, sensory flavourists, fruit winemakers, government and private liquor stores staff, individuals with direct past wine industry involvement, as well as having previous wine training such as the WSET courses or Okanagan College Winery Assistant Certificate or Viticulture programs. Each individual has successfully completed the BCWA four-day sensory fault training workshop and two apprentice sessions. Each Assessor is re-certified every two years. To join this team, please contact Lorrie Zander directly.


Mon - Fri 8:30am - 4:00pm


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