Sandhill Winery’s winemaker Sandy Leier

Sandhill Winery’s winemaker Sandy Leier

Every vintage has its own unique challenge

  • Sep. 11, 2019 8:30 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

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

(Photo submitted)
Ermineskin citizen graduates vet school, is part of busy practice

Dr. Justin Hodgson is rolling up his sleeves in Meadow Lake, Sask.

Shaela Dansereau/Pipestone Flyer
Wetaskiwin City services impacted by new public health measures

Public centers and availability to public impacted by the new public health measures.

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Moderna chairman says Canada near head of line for 20 million vaccine doses

Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 in Ottawa. Poilievre says building up the Canadian economy post-pandemic can't be achieved without a massive overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conservatives attack Trudeau’s ‘reset’ but they have ideas for their own

‘We don’t need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer’

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Spread of COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont., linked to systemic factors, experts say

‘We’re tired. We’re numb. We’re overworked. We’re frustrated, because it’s not our rules’

A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
‘I’ve been spared a lot,’ van attack survivor says as she watches trial alone

Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

Most Read