by >Treve Ring | There are people who have seen a lot in this industry, and then there are people who have seen it all. “When I arrived in the valley, ‘Okanagan Riesling’ and Marechal Foch were the most planted grapes” remembers Sandra Oldfield. Back then, the funky so-far-from-Riesling hybrid dubbed ‘Okanagan Riesling’ and the foxy, always-divisive Marechal Foch were ruling the vineyards. “They kept saying ‘Riesling this and Riesling that’ but I knew there was no possible way that stuff could actually be Riesling.” Thankfully, Sandra had the adventuresome pluck and foresight to put down roots, literally and figuratively. 2014 marks the 20th anniversary for Oliver’s Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, a golden milestone for CEO and Winemaker Oldfield and her Golden Mile winery.
Since harvesting their first grapes in 1994 in the southern Okanagan, the family-owned and operated Tinhorn Creek Vineyards has been a pioneer of carbon-neutral and sustainable winemaking and instrumental in introducing the world to BC wine (thankfully, not ‘Okanagan Riesling’). I joined Sandra and a handful of wine folks for lunch at Good Wolfe Kitchen & Bar recently as she cracked some screwcaps (all wines are under stelvin), reminisced (did you know Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Forrest Gump both came out in 1994?), and looked forward to the year ahead.
Her Vancouver visit kicked off a series of 20 events held this year to celebrate Tinhorn’s 20th birthday. Not content just to ponder what the next year or two will bring – though contentious sub-appellations were bandied about over the dozens of glasses on the table – the pioneering Sandra is “very excited about what the next 20 years will have to offer.” Us too, Sandra. Cheers to 20 more!
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench Red 2010 | OKANAGAN | $30
The 2010 2Bench Red is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Big boned, with ample cassis, fine cedar spice, thorny leaf, black raspberries and blacker coffee, ending off with raspy grained tannins and faint tobacco smoke. The wine is held back and aged at the winery, released only when it’s ready to drink (because, of course, consumers don’t cellar).
Straight up – why did you make this wine? After making wine here from estate grapes for a dozen years we got a feel for what grapes grow well in what parts of our vineyard. We decided to make a big, bold red blend because we were in complete control of the quality from our vineyards, we knew what varieties would make the best blend and we were excited to release a well-aged red wine to our customers.
Where are the grapes from? Our grapes come from the heart of red wine country in BC — what I like to call the Okanagan Valley’s “Extreme South”. The majority of the blend comes from estate vines in our Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench and the Petit Verdot vines are what I look out at from my bedroom window on the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench. The name “2Bench” comes from blending these estate grapes from both benches in the Oliver area of BC.
Your ideal pairing with this wine would be…? A winter hardy stew with fork tender beef (preferably from our own Okanagan’s Finest Angus Beef grown right in Oliver), some lovely rustic vegetables, potatoes and with a bit of the 2Bench Red mixed in.
Favourite BC wine, other than yours? I’d say my favourite BC wine that I’ve had recently (this week) was the Quails’ Gate 2012 Chardonnay; I had it on the weekend and it was just lovely. I also love the Rieslings from Orofino and the Pinot Noirs from Stoneboat Vineyards.
What do you drink when you’re not drinking BC wine? We drink wines from all over the world and some of my favourite places are Alsace, California and Washington State, but lately it has been all I can do to just stay on top of all that BC has to offer. I put my focus recently on trying a new BC wine each week, and preferably from a winery I have not had from a while.
The GOODS from Tinhorn Creek
Oliver, BC | Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is excited to release their first vintage of 2010 Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc. Several years in the making, this unique wine features 100% Cabernet Franc grapes, which were picked in October 2010 from a specially selected area of the vineyard. Barrel-aged for 15 months, the Oldfield Series vintage has spent the last nine months ageing in the bottle; ready for release on February 1, 2013.
A limited edition of 374 cases will only be available through the winery and Tinhorn Creek Vineyards’ Miradoro Restaurant. Although it was once dismissed as a difficult varietal, Cabernet Franc is growing a loyal following from wine lovers looking for a special characterful red and is now one of the Okanagan’s most exciting red varietals.
“As one of the pioneers in British Columbia, making a varietal Cabernet Franc since 1996, Tinhorn Creek felt it was long overdue to make a reserve-style Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc,” says Sandra Oldfield, President, CEO & Winemaker at Tinhorn Creek. “Our estate vines are now between 15-17 years old and the depth of character we get from them is amazing.”
Sandra Oldfield’s ongoing passion for the varietal has produced a complex vintage that was picked on October 21, 2010 from their Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench. All the Cabernet Franc came from a single block that was specially selected to create the Oldfield Series vintage.
The wine was barrel-aged for 15 months in a combination of new French and American oak barrels. A final 9 month bottle ageing completes the journey from grape to glass. Food-friendly, rich and fruity, the Cabernet Franc was traditionally grown to blend with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create a Bordeaux-style wine. With some loving care the hardy black grape thrives well in British Columbia’s wine growing region. Read more
The GOODS from Tinhorn Creek
Oliver, BC | Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is offering free shipping as well as 10% off the purchase of cases of wine this Canada Day. This special one day only offer is extended to wine lovers anywhere in Canada to celebrate the recent passage of Bill C-311 which lifts restrictions on inter-provincial purchasing and shipping and is timely to coincide with the winery’s latest vintage releases. Although the government of British Columbia relaxed liquor restrictions earlier this month to allow BC residents to avoid additional duties when bringing back wine, beer and other alcohol from other provinces for personal use, wineries wishing to sell directly to out of province consumers were still left in the cold. Read more
The GOODS from Le Gavroche
Vancouver, BC | On Wednesday, November 9th, Le Gavroche will welcome winemaker Sandra Oldfield for an unforgettable evening of food and wine to celebrate Tinhorn Creek’s latest release of their Oldfield Series Wines, including the limited releases of Oldfield Series 2Bench Red and Oldfield Series Syrah. Le Gavroche’s Chef Robert Guest will pair five delicious courses with the best of Tinhorn Creek’s award-winning wines. Details and menu after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Tinhorn Creek
Oliver, BC | Tinhorn Creek’s Sandra Oldfield (@SandraOldfield) will host a weekly one-hour Twitter chat (#tinchat) about the Okanagan’s fall wine harvest. Every Wednesday evening, wine + social media lovers everywhere can have a conversation with Sandra, ask questions and pick her brains about grapes, vines and all things wine. Watch for guest hosts and Tinhorn experts to delve more deeply into several topics. Get the details after the jump… Read more
The People Who Make It Happen
Sandra Oldfield – Winemaker & Owner
Kenn Oldfield – Chairman & Owner
Andrew Moon – Viticulturist/Vineyard Manager
Korol Kuklo – Assistant Winemaker
Shaun Everest – General Manager
About Tinhorn Creek
On a hillside overlooking vineyards, sagebrush, and the old gold mining creek that is its namesake, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards has been owned and operated by the Shaunessy and Oldfield families since1993. The winery is located south of Oliver, BC, at the junction of Highway 97 and Road 7 in the famed Golden Mile wine-growing district. This area, named for its rich history of farming that dates back to the early 1900s, is home to several quality wine producers. Tinhorn Creek sources fruit exclusively from its own vineyards: 150 acres of prime land on two very distinct benches. This land lends to the creation of terroir-driven wines that are classic illustrations of the place they are grown. The 100-acre Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench is planted with a mix of red and white varieties, primarily Pinot Gris, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The 50-acre Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench is also planted with a mix of red and white grapes, but primarily features Gewürztraminer.
Farming their own vineyards using sustainable practices allows Tinhorn Creek full control over the quality of fruit delivered to the crush pad for each vintage. The winery produces wines in two tiers under one dynamic and compelling label. The single-varietal series includes a Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot. Only worthy wines are selected each year for the winery’s top tier, winemaker Sandra Oldfield’s signature wines, named the Oldfield Series. This tier provides Oldfield with a playground for experimentation and is a creative showcase for the best wines from each vintage. All Tinhorn Creek wines evoke the unique terroir of the region: the sage-covered desert terrain.
Tinhorn Creek was the first winery in Canada to bottle its entire portfolio with Stelvin screw-cap closures ensuring consistent aging and a guarantee that the wine will be enjoyed as it was intended.