SUSTAINABLE VINTICULUTRE AT TINHORN CREEK VINEYARDS
We were delighted to welcome Sandra Oldfield – President, CEO & Winemaker of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards to the EPIC Fest Main Stage!
Sandra Oldfield grew up in Marin and Sonoma counties in California. After earning an undergraduate degree in arts for business administration and international business, she worked in the tasting room at Rodney Strong Vineyards where she discovered her passion for the wine business. Enrolling in the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) to further her studies in the production side of the wine industry, Sandra met Kenn Oldfield. Kenn had recently purchased the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard in Oliver, BC. Kenn convinced Sandra to get involved in his new business and they struck an agreement. Serendipitously Kenn found both his winemaker and a wife.
Sandra oversaw the first vintage at Tinhorn Creek in 1994 by commuting between BC and California while on a work visa. In 1995, she moved north to Oliver and eventually brought the production from 1,000 cases in 1994 to over 37,000 today. Once at full production, Sandra resumed her studies and was awarded her master’s of Enology in 2002.
Sandra will be talking about Tinhorn’s extensive sustainability practices in the vineyard Saturday July 6 at 6:30pm on the EPIC Festival Main Stage.
A bit more on Sandra…
Q: What made you decide to become a winemaker?
A: Quick answer: I got tired of selling dresses at Macy’s! Real answer: I fell into wine sales at Rodney Strong winery in Healdsburg [California] and one season I luckily got a harvest job in the QC lab. I found I was coming to work early and leaving late for no pay, and that was when I decided I needed to go into winemaking as a career. There had never been a job before that I wanted to soak up as much as I could every waking hour.
Q. What is your winemaking philosophy?
A. Winemaking is not really a philosophy, it’s a beverage; but my thoughts toward winemaking are 1) Know your grapes because then you can know your wines. 2) Do your job right in the vineyard. 3) Pick ’em ripe. 4) Don’t screw it up after they’re picked. 5) Lastly, have a good time doing what you do and the wines will respond. To summarize… “It’s the grapes, Stupid.”
Q. How do you feel about sustainability and what are you doing to achieve that?
A. Now it is quite a buzz word, but when you look into what we have been doing here at Tinhorn Creek since we started we have been doing quite sustainable practices all along – growing only estate grapes, managing those acreages and the way we run our winery. Currently we have a growing list of sustainable practices on our website and they include our stewardship with our surrounding habitats, vineyard practices, and winery practices including recycling or reusing almost all waste generated. We set goals in our vineyard, winery and packaging operations to add more sustainable practices to what we do here each year. I guess you could say I have taken on sustainability because it is my passion. I live on the property and so I take it very seriously.
Q. What career would you pursue if you were not a winemaker?
A. Marine biologist – although pretty hard to do that in Oliver, so I’ll stick to winemaking. I’d leave winemaking to be a senior advisor to President Obama, but I don’t think that will ever happen either.