Welcoming Women Owned Wineries and Winemakers to #WinePW and Tribute to Sandra Oldfield

In advance of March’s Women’s History Month and in light of the recent website and project by Amy Bess Cook on Women Owned Wineries in Sonoma, the Wine Pairing Weekend group is focusing on women in the wine Industry with an emphasis on wineries owned by women and on women who are winemakers!

To warm us up for welcoming women owned wineries and women winemakers, and to celebrate my birthday, Sue and I opened up two wines by a pioneer in both areas: Sandra Oldfield who recently retired as CEO and head winemaker at Tinhorn Creek in Oliver, British Columbia. Keep reading to learn about how to participate along with the deal, the wines, and the meal plus more about WOW in Sonoma!

  • Contact me to tell me you’re in by commenting on this post below! You can also email me. Include your blog URL, Twitter handle,  and any other social media details. If you know your blog post title, include that…but you can also send that closer to the event. We’d just like to get a sense of who’s participating and give some shout-outs and links as we go.
  • Prepare a dish to pair with your chosen wine from a woman owned winery OR female winemaker. Write up your experience and get ready to post and share.
  • Send your post title to me by midnight Tuesday, February 6 to be included in the preview post. I will prepare a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title should include “#WinePW.”
  • Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-8:00 a.m. EDT Saturday, February 10. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up that morning.
  • Include links to the other #WinePW participants in your post and a description of what the event is about. I’ll provide the HTML code that you can easily put in your initial post — which will link to people’s general blog url — then the updated code for the permanent links to everyone’s #winePW posts.
  • Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers’ posts to comment and share. We have a Facebook group for participating bloggers to connect and share, too. (If you aren’t a part of this and want to be included, please mention that when you contact me.)
  • Twitter chat 8am PST Sat. February 10: Please join us online for our monthly twitter chat. I will create a set of questions to guide our discussion which will be posted in our Facebook group. You can schedule your answers but it’s more fun to join us live! All are welcome — you don’t have to have a blog post.
  • Sponsored posts are OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.

Winemaker Amy Bess Cook, Wine Writer LM Archer, Sommelier Heidi Turzyn on the porch of the Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, CA

Women Owned Wineries of Sonoma County

I met Amy Bess Cook at the Ataraxia Retreat organized by Lauren Mowrey for women in wine held in Lake County last September where Amy Bess shared her fabulous Sirsee Grenache and a poetry publication she edited of the same title; the name “sirsee” she explained means an unexpected gift, a Southern term which she learned from her mother. She also discussed her plans to put women owned wineries on the map, starting with her home base of Sonoma.

According to research presented on the WOW website,

  • Of 4,000+ wineries in California, only 10% have a woman as their lead winemaker (about 400).
  • Of those wineries, a significantly smaller portion of female (4%) than male (47%)winemakers are also owners of their winery.
  • In California, the North Bay area has the highest percentage of women lead winemakers (12 to 14%) while Southern California has the lowest (4%).
  • Proportional to their representation in the field (9.8% women, 90.2% men) more women lead winemakers (23%) than men (14.1%) are listed in the acclaimed wine reference book Opus Vino.

Who are these women? And what are their wineries in Sonoma? Check out the list — for your #WinePW consideration — here.

Tinhorn Creek and Sandra Oldfield

While we knew and followed each other online and I looked into traveling north to visit in 2011, I met Sandra Oldfield at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2012 and we hit it off right away. As you can see in the video below, Sandra is cheery, friendly, charismatic, and very enthusiastic about the Okanagan region of British Columbia, and she played a huge role in bringing WBC13 to Penticton, British Columbia. At the conclusion of the conference, I stayed for two nights at the winery where I also met her husband Kenn Oldfield and their daughter. I met with Sandra for a quick interview while Kenn gave me an extensive tour of the vineyards and production facility and took me to lunch at the onsite restaurant where I later had dinner. Both meals were fantastic with gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside.

Family-owned and operated since 1993, Tinhorn Creek offers estate grown red and white wines. As the story goes, Sandra was studying how to make wine at UC Davis and Kenn Oldfield was there also — but more with his sights on finding a winemaker! He laid his eyes on Sandra’s bright baby blues, and well, history was made: Sandra became both winemaker and wife as well as a co-owner and CEO.

As CEO, Sandra paid particular attention to the needs of the land and her employees, adhering to the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit. For her leadership, Sandra was honored in 2016 as a Top 100 award winner in the Sun Life Financial Trailblazers & Trendsetters category of the Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) 2016 Canada’s Most Powerful Women which highlights the accomplishments of professional women across Canada.

“I’m honoured to be recognized as a trailblazer and have the opportunity, as a female CEO in the wine industry, to act as a role model for younger generations and my peers,” said Sandra at the time. “At Tinhorn Creek we strive to be at the forefront of the industry; pushing boundaries and setting trends to promote Canadian wine.”

As one of only a few BC female winemakers when Tinhorn Creek Vineyards opened over 20 years ago and when she retired one of the few female CEOs in the Canadian wine industry, Sandra has led many innovations including guiding Tinhorn Creek’s sustainability efforts; for example, in 2009, Tinhorn Creek became Canada’s only carbon neutral winery. Sandra also implemented the most rigorous Health and Safety program of any winery in BC, earning Canada’s Safest Employers Award for outstanding accomplishments in promoting the health and safety of workers.

Since 2011, you can find Sandra leading a weekly online discussion on twitter called #BCWineChat which brings together consumers, wineries, retailers and restaurants on specific topics weekly.

In a recent article about the sale, Sandra said: “It has been the honour of my life to have helped build Tinhorn Creek, to make great wines with an attention to sustainability and most importantly, to run our business with empathy toward our employees, our customers and our community.” Sandra assures us that “Andrew Peller will continue the long term development and growth in the Okanagan that we started.”

So what does Sandra plan to do now? Not this, she says:

1) Retirement
2) Own another winery
3) Politics

But this:

1) Champion BC and Canadian wines because why should she stop doing that now?
2) Shake things up.  Not for the sake of shaking things up but because they truly need to be
3) Kick some ass. See Point 2 above

Bon voyage, Sandra! Thanks for the wine, and all you’ve done to make Tinhorn Creek not only awesome for wine but a great place for the planet and for people!

And now for some thoughts about two of her wines:

2011 – Tinhorn Creek – Gewurtztraminer – Okanagan Valley  – 13.1% alcohol (sample)
2009 – Tinhorn Creek – Syrah – 14.6% alcohol current release 2013 SRP $32
(note: I purchased with industry discount) 

Both of these wines have such a distinct characteristic. They are both an example of how soil has such an impact of how the wine tastes and feels in your mouth. We also think we can taste that they care for the people that care for the vines and the wine as well as the planet.

2011 – Tinhorn Creek – Gewurtztraminer – Okanagan Valley – 13.1% alcohol

This is a nice welcome wine. We found using a tulip glass brings out the most balanced flavor along with the most aromatics while a Chardonnay glass brings out the minerality.

With a fair amount of petrol, we see this as a more European style wine, specifically Austrian or German because of the minerality. This wine is done in a dry style that is very food friendly — it is not a sweet Gewurtztraminer with lots of residual sugars but one with high acidity and closer to dry making it better for food.

Color – Golden in part due to the fact that it is a 2011; it is most probably a bit deeper in hue than when first released. Light gold straw.

Nose – Petrol, briney sea, grasses, and some light floral notes, daisy, geranium: it’s like being in an alpine meadow.

Palate – You can also taste some of the alpine meadow on the palate on the forefront, long lingering finish with herbal qualities. Licorice, and that geranium shows up there. There is not a lot of weight on the palate. You think it is going to dissipate, but there is that long lingering finish. This wine prefers goat cheeses rather than cow milk cheeses. The brie did not go so well with this wine. The bucheron cheese was wonderful with this wine.

Amazing with our arugula salad, with a simple salad dressing of lemon juice, honey, and olive oil what a perfect partner for this wine.

2009 – Tinhorn Creek – Syrah – 14.6% alcohol (around $30)

Color – nice rich in color but not dense

Nose – cherry cola, the minerals are the most present in this wine. Elegant and subtle.

Palate – light in body. Nice light, lots of minerals present. This is a very different Syrah than one that is full of spicy fruit and tannins, but very satisfying.  It is much more delicate, Much of the minerality is present

While this wine is light in color, it can stand up to bold flavors. Sue tried this wine with a salt cured olive and exclaimed, “Wow! That was a pretty amazing flavor experience.” We both liked it and felt it even further accentuated the cherry cola flavor, while taming the salinity in the olive.

Great with the szechuan peppercorn premium steak strips, loved the spicy sweet with this wine.

We felt that both of these wines would show nicely with Chinese or Thai food. These foods do not want a big bold wine, they want a nice light playful wine. That is why these work.

We paired it with a second casserole of beans, pork sausage, rabbit ragu and duck confit aka cassoulet — quite a delicious pairing as the Syrah cut through the rich dish balancing with fruit the savory meat and beans.



4 thoughts on “Welcoming Women Owned Wineries and Winemakers to #WinePW and Tribute to Sandra Oldfield

  1. My post is written and scheduled. The title is Women Winemakers~~Introducing Burgdorf Winery. I will be in sunny California on Saturday when this goes live. In fact, I have lunch plans with Cam that day, so I will get by to visit and comment on all the others as time permits. Thanks again for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

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