Women in Wine - Get to Know Emily Haines, Terra d’Oro Winemaker!
Q: What did you want to be when you were young?
When I was a kid – and all the way up to my second year in college – I went back and forth between wanting to be a scientist and wanting to be a doctor. I ultimately decided to pursue Biology and Chemistry degrees and follow the path into research.
Q: How did you get your start in the wine industry?
After college, I was working in research at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Seattle when multiple wine industry influences came into my life. At that time, I was working at a tasting room in Woodinville, Washington on evenings and weekends to make ends meet. Also around that time, my best friend left Eastern Washington University to pursue the wine industry at Walla Walla Community College. Between my work in the tasting room and time visiting and tasting with my best friend, it became a natural next step to see if I could make my way into the wine business. My first harvest as a lab intern was in 2008 and I honestly never thought that I would get this far.
Q: What appealed to you the most about Terra d’Oro?
In 2017, I was at a point in my career when I was ready for a new challenge: new wine varieties and a new growing region. I found the perfect opportunity in Terra d’Oro. I didn’t know about the history of the region or the winery, but both have drawn me in and welcomed me to take part in their evolving future. It’s such an honor to be entrusted with the wines and legacy of a 50-year-old, established winery.
Q: What’s your favorite varietal?
I’m always up for a challenge, so Zinfandel has been my favorite to work with for a few years now. What started as a love-hate relationship has grown into a complex affair, of sorts. Zinfandel is a unique beast to tame and reacts very differently from any other wine I’ve made in my career. It’s been fun to stretch my winemaking legs with Zinfandel.
Q: What are some things you enjoy when you are not making wine?
I am a shameless homebody. I love to spend time with my senior dog, Dax. I enjoy cooking – especially barbecue – and baking. Lately, I’ve been taking inspiration from the Great British Bake Off, making layer cakes and filled choux pastry. When I get out of the house, seeing live music and getting in touch with nature by hiking or kayaking are at the top of my list.
Q: What is one wine from Terra d’Oro that you just can’t enough of?
I love the versatility of a white wine, so I’d have to say that my go-to wine is our Chenin Blanc-Viognier. It pairs just as well with salad, crab, scallops and sushi as it does with binging a trashy reality show. Chenin Blanc-Viognier’s refreshing, nuanced aromas and flavors keep me interested without being fatiguing.
Q: Is there one thing you would like to say to other women trying to break into the industry?
Two things: The most valuable thing you can do is to start from the bottom. Knowledge of lab, cellar, bottling, QC, sanitation, sales, consumers, etc. builds an incredibly strong core of understanding that helps tremendously when you get to the point of helming a winery. Second, be kind. Those we work with and those around us will make mistakes. How you handle those missteps will mold your career. Forgive those around you and forgive yourself. Upward and onward.
Q: What is one thing about Amador County and Terra d’Oro wines that Allied Beverage, distributor partner, in NJ should remember?
The history and charm of Amador County is unlike anything else. Before coming to Amador, I made wine in Washington State. I was at a large custom crush facility making gobs of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling. It was fun, but I felt ready for a new challenge in winemaking in a completely new-to-me area. I’d looked abroad and in other states, but it was Amador County that spoke to me. Now working and living here, I love the sense of community among the wineries, the picturesque towns and the relaxing atmosphere of being in the country. The wines of Terra d’Oro capture that sentiment – perfected over 50 vintages – in the glass.