production, she completed her master’s degree in 2002, the same year she became a Canadian citizen. A driving force in the wine industry, she recently spearheaded the establishment of B.C.’s first wine-growing sub appellation, the Golden Mile Bench near Oliver, where Tinhorn is located. More sub appellations will undoubtedly be recognized. Designated on bottle labels, sub appellations promise to attract more wine tourists and advance exports, according to many in the wine industry.
Several years ago, Oldfield gained national attention by highlighting problems with access to wine within Canada when she purchased a shotgun online from Saskatchewan and had it shipped to B.C. “My new gun is a Maverick 88 single-barrel, pump-action 12-gauge single-shot — whatever that means,” she blogged. “If only getting 12 bottles of Canadian wine were as easy as getting this 12- gauge.”
With the award ceremonies under her belt, she plans to pay more attention to obtaining approval for direct to consumer shipments across provincial borders. “I now have time to concentrate on this,” said Sandra, who started the province’s first wine club, shipping wine direct to customers. Sandra has also campaigned for clearer labelling of the origin of grapes, in particular the removal of ‘cellared in Canada’ from labels for wine not made with grapes grown in Canada.
In 2003, Tinhorn was the first winery in Canada to move its entire production to screw cap closures. Oldfield dismissed cork
traditionalists, who said screw caps took the romance out of wine, by suggesting that if true, they might want to consider they were having dinner with the wrong person. “I am most proud of blazing the trail for Stelvin screw cap,” she told Women in Wine last spring when asked what innovation at Tinhorn she was most proud of.
A few years later, Oldfield turned her attention to the environment
28 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2017
The Tinhorn team now focuses on the impact of the winery operations on the delicate local ecosystem and works to protect indigenous plants and animals. As a result of these efforts, The Land Conservancy of B.C. has recognized Tinhorn Creek as a conservation partner.
It was the first B.C. winery to be certified carbon-neutral.
Treating employees properly has always been of the highest importance to Oldfield.
She was awarded Canada’s Safest Employer Award for outstanding accomplishments in promoting the health and safety of workers. The Tinhorn team recently received an Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence certification. The winery is the first small business in the province’s food manufacturing industry to do so. But there is still more to do. “Improving health and safety is still in progress,” Sandra said. Helping employees better
themselves is a cornerstone in Oldfield’s concept of being a good employer.
She encourages seasonal employees to acquire new skills so they can have year round
employment working inside and out of the winery.
Tinhorn recently added an employee mentorship and education program to its benefits package.
The program offer employees opportunities for further education or to access other staff members for mentoring.
Quick to adopt social media, Sandra started #BCWineChat in 2011 to help bring the industry together and to combat government attempts to control the wine industry.
She now has more than 12,000 Twitter followers for her 8 p.m. Wednesday chats which have become an open forum for wine enthusiasts on a wide spectrum of topics.
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