Sandhill Winery’s winemaker Sandy Leier

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

(Black Press Media files)
Snowfall expected for Lower Mainland on Saturday night, Sunday morning

2 to 5 cm of snow predicted Metro Vancouver, according to Environment Canada

Police were called to the scene of 198A Street and 81st Avenue on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (Curtis Kreklau/Special to Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Possible shots fired on Langley/Surrey border Thursday evening

Police had one vehicle towed and gathered evidence at the scene

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
WEATHER: Flurries in the forecast for Sunday

Langley could see snow throughout the week starting Jan. 23

Agates like these are up for auction on Jan. 27 at Aldergrove’s Able Auctions site. (Able Auctions/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Gems and geodes up for auction in Aldergrove

The auction has everything from diamonds to amber

Flip City’s Elise Van Harmelen at the 2017 Langley Invitational at the Langley Events Centre. Flip City is one of 11 local sports groups getting COVID relief funding. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley sports clubs get COVID relief funding

The province is giving cash to groups hit hard by shutdowns

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

Fire on Yale Road north of the overpass Friday morning. (Progress file)
Early morning blaze guts Chilliwack restaurant

The fire erupted north of the overpass closing one lane of Yale Road

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Most Read