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An interesting wine region deserves and equally intriguing winemaker, one who understands the terroir, yet likes to push the envelope a bit on what that terroir can achieve in the glass. The kind of winemaker whose spirit of adventure leads to thoughtful risks that ultimately expand what a wine can become. Emily Haines found her way to Terra d’Oro Winery in Amador County, because the region—and these particular wines—promised new terrain, exciting challenges and the chance to experiment in the cellar.
A career in wine wasn’t on Emily’s mind when she earned her bachelor’s degree in biotechnology and biochemistry at Eastern Washington University, but her strong foundation in science would prove invaluable down the road. While working in a diabetes research lab after college, a part-time stint in a Woodinville tasting room gave Emily a behind-the-scenes look at winemaking. She was drawn to every aspect, from fruit selection to fermentation science to barrel aging. In a rather bold move, she quit her steady job to try her hand at winemaking, and she’s never looked back.
For eight years, Emily honed her skills in various positions at the Wahluke Wine Company in Washington, most recently as the head winemaker for the portfolio’s Milbrandt Vineyards. Through her tenure, she earned seven 90+ scores from top critics, demonstrating her ability to bring a wine to its ultimate potential.
“Every vineyard and every wine has an aspiration to be great. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you need to do to help the wine achieve that level of greatness,” said Emily. “For me, that means keeping an open mind and taking some risks to create something truly memorable.”
Emily has embraced her new life in Amador County, learning from the depth and breadth of expertise on the Terra d’Oro winemaking team, while relishing the opportunity to shape the next generation of bottlings from this revered local winery. She’s already left her mark, delivering terroir-driven wines with up-front minerality and a core of elegant fruit, framed by velvety tannins.
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