Sandhill Winery’s winemaker Sandy Leier

Every vintage has its own unique challenge

  • Sep. 11, 2019 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Susan Lundy Photography by Darren Hull

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

Vancouver-born Sandy Leier moved to Kelowna when she was two years old and has lived here ever since. After completing a degree in chemistry at UBC Okanagan, she worked as a research assistant and chemistry lab teaching assistant at the university for a few years. She started working at Sandhill Winery, assisting the winemakers, 13 years ago.

How did you get started in the wine business?

I had a friend in university who was working with the winemakers at Sandhill. She sparked my interest in winemaking by the way she talked about the wines and how they were made. After she introduced me to the winemaking team, I got the opportunity to cover her maternity leave at the winery. She didn’t end up coming back, so I stayed on and continued to learn and take on more. And here I am today!

What is your winemaking style?

Clean and varietally-focused, building on some Italian wine styles.

How do you KNOW when you have a particularly good vintage?

When you’re tasting the grapes in the vineyard, you can feel it when the flavour concentration is there before the sugar levels get too high and the acidity starts dropping too low. Then you know the wines will have a good intensity of aromatics and flavours, and balance between alcohol, tannin and acidity.

What is one of your favourite varietals to work with and why?

Syrah is fun to work with because it grows very well in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, and we get a few different expressions of it from our different vineyards. It also requires a lot of attention through fermentation, so it’s that much more rewarding when you see the final product.

Do you have a favourite wine or vintage that you have made?

The 2018 Sandhill Small Lot Syrah is going to be amazing — stay tuned for its release early next May.

What is one of the hardest things about winemaking year in and year out?

Each vintage has its own unique challenge and Mother Nature usually has something to do with it. No two vintages are exactly the same so there’s always something to learn.

What is one of the most rewarding things about your job?

Sitting in a restaurant anonymously and overhearing someone enjoying one of our wines.

Hobbies?

I love hiking and snowboarding with my family, yoga and the occasional game of golf.

Anything else we should know?

To celebrate the end of each harvest I travel somewhere warm right after we wrap up. This gives me energy to come back and put the finishing touches on the wines before bottling. That’s my secret to happy winemaking!

BC WineFood and WineWinery

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

CVRD office and meetings re-opening to public

The office has been closed to the public since March 17 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus

NIC’s Metal Fabrication program returns to Campbell River

Metal fabricators build, assemble and repair products made of steel or other metals.

Courtenay development proposes expanded pub, condos

Courtenay council gave second reading Monday to a development application for a… Continue reading

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit Bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Time to protect B.C.’s unique glass sponge reefs, conservation group says

Climate change is a “serious and immediate threat” to the 9,000-year old sponges: study

Time to protect B.C.’s unique glass sponge reefs, conservation group says

Climate change is a “serious and immediate threat” to the 9,000-year old sponges: study

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Most Read