March 5, 2013 – Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Winemaker, President and Chief Executive Officer Sandra Oldfield of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is one of those people in the wine industry that I absolutely admire. Perhaps to the point that she may think of me as a stalker from time to time. Hopefully, she does see me for what I am – a huge fan and another of her many groupies.
As I’ve noted before, while I adore British Columbia wine my interest in the local wineries goes beyond a pursuit of good things to drink. It’s truly about the people. What impresses me so much about Sandra is that her passion goes beyond the success of her own winery. She is a true crusader in trying to move the entire industry forward.
Tinhorn Creek is a highly successful enterprise that Sandra’s husband Kenn Oldfield started in 1993 with his friend Bob Shaunessy. Ownership includes Bob and Barbara Shaunessy, Kenn and Sandra Oldfield, and Shaun Everest (Vice President, Finance and Administration, Chief Funding Officer). Viticulturist/Vineyard Manager is Andrew Moon from Australia and trained at the Melbourne University. Assistant winemaker is Korol Kuklo and she works closely with Sandra to lead the harvest, oversee fermentation, blend, barrel, bottle and taste. On the “Who We Are” page on its website, you’ll also learn about other Tinhorn personalities such as Julie Copland-Stene, sales and marketing manager; Mark Butschler, BC sales manager; and Muriel Allen, hospitality manager.
It’s a fun-loving lot at Tinhorn. Take, for example, the concert series which brings in great groups to perform in its natural amphitheatre roughly four times annually. And while I’ve yet to make it to one of these festive occasions, rumour has it that Sandra can be found dancing into the wee hours. A lot of love is put into its Crush Club with Terry Meyer Stone as coordinator.
Then there’s the onsite Miradoro Restaurant, which is a partnership with Manuel Ferreira, owner of Le Gavroche restaurant in Vancouver. Open March through December, it is true to Tinhorn’s sustainable practice with an emphasis on seasonal products. One of BC’s most celebrated chefs, Executive Chef Jeff Van Geest ensures a highly creative touch to the modern, local and sustainable cuisine so beautifully paired with the wines. We enjoyed one of the splendid Communal Table Dinner events with our neighbours, Jim and Jacquie Jackson. It was a perfect evening with Dino of Grape Escapes Wine Tour delivering us there and back from our driveway. Just to give you a tease of what you might find at Miradoro that evening paired elegantly with the Tinhorn wines we devoured tuna crudo, chorizo puree, sourdough croutons with wild watercress; grilled wild asparagus, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pecorino romano with fried “Le Vieux Pin” egg; pasta ratolo with chestnuts with pork and trotter on nettle puree; and rhubarb semi-fredo, orange sauce and pistachio meringue. The sides of my lips are bubbling with saliva just relating it.
Oh yes, and then there was an opportunity to cover for Savour magazine the Visa Infinite Wine Country Experiences: Top Chef Canada Winners at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. That evening, stars of the Top Chef Canada including Chef Carl Heinrich (Richmond Station, Toronto), Chef Dale MacKay (ensemble and eTap Vancouver) and Chef Trevor Bird (Fable, Vancouver) joined Chef Van Geest. Working together in the kitchen, it was like an all-star game for chefs and the guests privileged to experience the culinary masterpieces so expertly paired with wines. Just as the kitchen was open to outside inspiration, the wines went beyond Tinhorn and were expertly introduced by Master of Wine Rhys Pender.
The sustainability practices are at the core of Tinhorn. As stated on its website, it goes way further than tree hugging and having recycling or composting programs to smart choices and sound business practices. It is a cycle of being good stewards to the environment and creating a safe and healthy workplace. A cycle that keeps Tinhorn in business with appropriate growth to provide employment and support the community in charitable giving as well. As evidence of this commitment, it was Canada’s First Carbon Neutral Winery and received a Certificate of Recognition for Small Business Health and Safety.
Tinhorn walks the talk and that brings me back to Sandra. A Masters, Enology graduate from University of California, Davis, she not only makes award-winning wine, she is a motivator and advocate. With her love for her husband, daughter, classic cars, antiques and socializing and passion for winemaking, it is inspirational that she finds time to put her energy into initiatives to modernize the Canadian wine industry. She is a blogger and twitter fanatic and she is not shy to use such tools to enrich the discussion on the industry. Check out #BCWineChat Wednesday evening on twitter, which she set up to facilitate a collaborative conversation.
I have a confession to make: I waited to include Tinhorn as one of my winery each week series leading up to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton because I thought I should include my own photograph of Sandra at work and better yet the Tinhorn crew all together. The irony is that Sandra is often on the road and I couldn’t seem to time a visit to catch her. And I don’t think it’s because she thinks I’m a stalker… Then, I had my whack on the side of the head moment. Many of you know her already! Lord knows she has supported the Wine Bloggers Conferences and she’s often in the news trying to affect change or offering tips to wine enthusiasts.
Without further adieu, I urge you to visit Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, member of the Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country. It’s a place of beauty with great wines and food. Whether or not Sandra is present the day you visit Tinhorn, you’ll experience the difference she’s made!
Located at 537 Tinhorn Creek Road, Box 2010, Oliver, BC V0H 1T0
Phone: 250-498-3743 or Toll Free: 1-888-484-6467
Phone: 250-498-3742 for reservations