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!

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

Just Posted

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

VIDEO: Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens play to the crowd in Nelson

The charity game was a spectacle from puck drop

Two-vehicle collision near Castlegar sends two to hospital

The incident took place Wednesday evening near the Brilliant Bridge in Ootischenia

PLACE NAMES: Shenango Canyon, Sheep Creek City, Beaverville

John G. Devlin envisioned a city on his mining claim, but it didn’t work out

Security video captures Castlegar porch pirate

Man stole package from front of house in December

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

B.C. man dies after police called for ‘firearms injury’ in rural Alberta

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

Most Read