A good winemaker understands terroir. A great winemaker understands how to push the envelope to fully reveal what terroir can achieve, and since 2017, Emily Haines has done just that to shape the next generation of Terra d’Oro wines.
Emily graduated with a degree in biotechnology and biochemistry at Eastern Washington University. While working in a research lab she took a part-time stint in a tasting room. Seeing everything involved in the winemaking decisions appealed to her scientific mind, and she quit her steady job to try her hand at winemaking. She honed her skills at the Wahluke Wine Company in Washington, ultimately serving as director of winemaking for its Millbrandt Vineyards, where she earned a number of 90+ scores from top critics.
The possibility to work with Terra d’Oro’s vineyard holdings attracted Emily to Amador County, and her skills and keen palate have continued to refine Terra d’Oro’s terroir-driven wines since then.
If great wine starts in the vineyard, a great vineyard starts with the soil, and Melissa is responsible for cultivating and maintaining the health of all 500 acres of Terra d’Oro’s vineyards from the ground up.
Melissa joined Terra d’Oro as viticulturist in 2019 and is responsible for ensuring each vineyard is a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem year round through best practices in irrigation, soils amendments, cover crops, sustainable pest management and more. She also works closely with winemaker Emily Haines on decisions regarding the crop throughout the growing season and harvest.
Melissa oversees Terra d’Oro’s organic certification process, bringing more acreage into certification each year, and has implemented a plan that plants California native wildflowers among the vines to attract beneficial insects as an eco-friendly (and beautiful) pest management program.
As assistant winemaker, Cooper is deeply involved in all aspects of winemaking, from harvest to finished wine. “I like working at a smaller facility as I get to be more hands on. I’ve touched and smelled every barrel here at Terra d’Oro.”
Cooper worked for nine years in the eastern Washington state wine industry before accepting a seasonal position as harvest enologist at Terra d’Oro. Coincidentally, winemaker Emily Haines, with whom he had worked for nearly a decade in Washington, started at Terra d’Oro at the same time. His temporary position ultimately led to a full-time enologist position, and he was promoted to assistant winemaker a year later.
“Amador has such a rich winemaking history and its climate and soils are conducive to a range of interesting varietals. I enjoy working closely with Emily to shape those into our finished wines.”