For Seattle-born Emily Haines, the journey to becoming one of Amador County’s most vibrant and talented winemakers began with an interest in technology and chemistry, two fields that now serve Haines on a perennial basis. After receiving degrees in biotechnology and biochemistry from Eastern Washington University, Haines was employed in a research laboratory. Her interest in wine was piqued during a stint at a tasting room in Woodinville, Wash. Throwing caution to the wind, she quit her steady job to chase a career in winemaking.
For years she studied and perfected the craft, shouldering additional responsibilities with the Wahluke Wine Company in Washington and ascending to the role of head winemaker. In this position, Haines demonstrated a knack for producing high-scoring, full-bodied wines with varietal typicity and territorial qualities.
In 2017, Haines was hired to lead Terra d’Oro’s winemaking program in Plymouth, Calif. Terra d’Oro tends more than 500 acres of estate Amador County vineyards for a portfolio of full-flavored, elegant red and aromatic white wines from French and Italian varieties.
“Terra d’Oro has a long-standing sustainable approach to viticulture. This strategy delivers only the best grapes to the cellar,” Haines says with a smile. “Then, I like to push the envelope. ”
Haines’ astute palate and background in science have served her well. Producing wines from Amador County’s high-elevation vineyards, where intense sunlight and dramatic diurnal temperature changes have a profound influence on a vintage, knowing precisely when to harvest and what to do in the cellar is paramount.
This picturesque part of the Shenandoah Valley has the ideal terrain for inspiration. From here Haines crafts an exciting portfolio of wines from Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Barbera, Sangiovese, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.
“Every vintage is another opportunity to bring back that spirit of adventure for which the Sierra Foothills and Amador County regions are known,” Haines says, alluding to the appellation’s history of providing wine to prospectors during the 1850 Sierra Nevada Gold Rush. “I’m excited to contribute to this chapter in the Terra d’Oro story.”