Saturday, July 7, 2012

What's In Your Cellar, Sandra?

Sandra Oldfield
Tinhorn Creek
Winemaker, CEO

Winemaker and bon vivant Sandra Oldfield wears many hats and holds various titles at Tinhorn Creek, where the US Davis graduate has been making wine since her first crush in 1995. In addition to President and CEO of Tinhorn's business holdings, the role most dear to her heart could appropriately be called Chief Evangelist for Sustainability, or CES, if such a thing existed. Ask Sandra about the winery's environmental activities, the most aggressive and sustainable in the valley, and she'll answer with the same pride as asking any winemaker about his or her favourite wine in their portfolio.

For Sandra, cellaring wine is about seeing how the wines evolve over time while also serving a practical purpose to have great bottles of wine at the ready should any socializing or entertaining opportunities arise.

Q - What is the purpose of your wine collection?
My cellar is for personal use. The winery keeps a library for evaluation and comparison purposes so this is just for personal parties and nightly drinking. I throw a lot of parties by the way.

Q - Is there a jewel of note or a favourite wine in your collection?
1845 Madeira that my husband and I taste from every year on our anniversary. Imagine, years before Lincoln was ever President of the US!! I just about cry every time we taste it.

Q - Any particular duds or disappointments of note?
Sometimes homewinemakers ask me to evaluate their wines and if I don't open them pretty quickly they tend not to do well when they finally get opened.

Q - How do you store your collection?
Most the collection is upright in cases because most is from BC and I love buying Screw top closed wines.

Q - What inspired you to hold onto that first bottle or case beyond when it was ready to drink?
I have all the wine I made at UC Davis for my thesis on Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mondavi To-Kalon vineyard. I have never wanted to open them although I am sure they are not good anymore.

Q - What causes you to actually pull the trigger on a special bottle from your cellar?
If I have people over who I know appreciate wine and if I open it as the 1st or 2nd bottle of the night, then I have no problem opening up that last, really-expensive, bottle of wine.

Q - Would perusing your wine cellar offer any insight into you as a person?
I think you would learn that I have to have more parties - I can hardly move inside the room it is being stored in right now.

Q - What advice would you share to anyone wanting to start a collection of wine?
Don't worry if your wine is at optimal temperature. Try to ensure that it stays relatively the same temperature throughout the year. Also, buy at least 3 bottles of something you like or you will find you never open up any wine as you'll be afraid of "the last bottle" syndrome.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

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