An integral part of Terra d'Oro his entire winemaking career, Jeff graduated with honors from the University of California, Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology in 1981 and became General Manager by 1986. These days Jeff oversees all aspects of the winery, including winemaking, viticulture, retail, and visitor operations. With his years of experience and encyclopedic knowledge of the region’s viticulture, Jeff has been instrumental in developing Italian varietals and Syrah in the region. He’s also helped to define a style of Zinfandel clearly and undeniably identified with Amador County and his wines have received awards and accolades too numerous to mention.
Jeff has a unique talent for producing Amador County wines that showcase the region’s robust fruit in a subtle, approachable style. His ultimate goal—to make rich, full-flavored reds ready to be enjoyed now, but still able to age and develop gracefully in the cellar for up to ten years. Jeff’s favorite grapes, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Italian varieties, are perfectly suited to this style.
Jeff has also created and designed one of the most important parts of winemaking at Terra d’Oro—ongoing vineyards trials. By studying and observing how particular vines perform in the Amador County terroir, Jeff can determine the best way to plant and farm Terra d’Oro’s 400 acres of estate vineyards to produce the style of wine he desires.
A genial baseball buff and avid Sacramento Kings fan, Jeff lives with his wife and two children in the Sierra foothills.
An interesting wine region deserves an 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.
“Every decision we make impacts the wine in the glass, from when we pick the fruit to the yeast we use to start fermentation, to the toast level of the barrels,” said Emily. “My approach is to experiment with those different elements to create balanced wines that ultimately showcase the unique terroir of our Amador County vineyards.”
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 Wahluke Wine Company in Washington, most recently as the head winemaker for the portfolio’s Milbrandt Vineyards. Throughout 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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