Situated in the South Okanagan, Tinhorn Creek is surrounded by pristine, natural and rugged beauty. Perched mid-hillside, at the base of the Golden Mile hiking trail, the winery offers sweeping views of the valley and beyond to its visitors. The creek flows down the steep mountain slope behind the vineyard; its curvy shape is replicated on the Tinhorn Creek wine labels.
Thanks to a strict ethos and years of conscious effort by the founders, the vineyard is a place where natural biodiversity thrives.
Bears are a typical sighting during harvest, known to wander down from the mountainside and load up on the Gewürztraminer, munching up to a tonne of grapes in a single feeding. The vineyard property lines are enclosed by a snake barrier, allowing protected indigenous rattlesnakes to migrate naturally while protecting vineyard workers from snakes. The vineyards are Salmon Safe certified, and the winery is carbon neutral, meaning any net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is paid back through a carbon offset program.
Meet the Andrews
The environment at Tinhorn Creek is alive and thriving, and as a result, so are the vines. Andrew Moon, Tinhorn Creek’s viticulturist since 2008, will tell you that he is simply a caretaker in the raw environment. Tinhorn Creek’s vines serve as a vessel, expressing the land in a bottle. Tinhorn Creek’s winemaker since 2014, Andrew Windsor, reiterates this belief by stating that the wines he produces are expressions of Tinhorn’s terroir, complemented by some pretty savvy, sustainable winemaking techniques.
I was privileged to spend the day with Tinhorn’s two Andrews. They share the same name and the same principles, working in what they both define as a full-circle partnership.
Their viticulturist/winemaker relationship is a symbiotic one. Two extremely laid-back professionals working together to produce exceptional and expressive wines.
Andrew Moon – Viticulturist
Andrew Moon’s passion for wine radiates. Moon is originally from Australia, but now calls the South Okanagan home. Cruising around the vineyard, Moon is in his happy place, which is communicated through his infectious laugh. Standing at the top of the vineyard, overlooking the entire property, he turns to me and states that he has “the best job on the planet.”
Andrew Windsor – Winemaker
Toronto native Andrew Windsor, creator/winemaker at Tinhorn Creek, is just as passionate about what he does. In 2008, after completing his master’s degree in enology, Windsor spent the next six years living and making wine in places like Marlborough, Yarra Valley and the Northern Rhône.
Windsor is creative in how he implements sustainable practices in his winemaking. He’s been known to take advantage of the below-freezing Okanagan winter weather to cold stabilize his wines, with no mechanization necessary. Windsor tells me he has an inherent, experimental nature and is thankful for the freedom to create at Tinhorn Creek. He describes his winemaking style as proactive rather than reactive. Under Windsor’s direction, The Creek was born: an ultra-premium Flagship wine exclusively from estate vineyards. Once a year, the Tinhorn Creek Innovation series releases an interesting, idiosyncratic wine or two. Keep an eye out for this!
Tinhorn Creek winery is an interactive one — a place where guests can witness every aspect of wine and its production. Tours are available with a guide or can be self-guided. Guests join in all the fun at harvest, able to view exactly what’s going on from various vantage points in the winery. A pocket of vines, showcasing Tinhorn Creek’s core varietals, provides a perfect picnicking spot for guests who are encouraged to bring their own picnic basket and pick fresh grapes to enjoy with lunch. Grapes are even served up in the tasting room where one can compare the nuances of the fresh fruit against the finished product.
Events and Wine Club
A proudly Canadian establishment, Tinhorn Creek offers its Canadian Concert Series, where up to 500 guests can sip from the beautiful portfolio of wines, enjoy local music and bask in the views from the amphitheater. The winery also hosts a plethora of other wine-related events. Be sure to book your tickets for the upcoming event in October: Grazing in the Vineyard.
Tinhorn Creek offers plenty of special perks and advantages through its wine club, the Crush Club. Members get first dibs to small lot wines and pre-releases. Exclusive dinners and parties are just some of the benefits involved in being a member.
No matter what time of year, a visit to Tinhorn Creek will certainly be a memorable one. Tour the vines, taste the wine and polish off your day with a delicious artisan bite from their award-winning restaurant, Miradoro.
Be sure to keep an eye out for and say hi to the Andrews; hard at work, thriving and living the dream in their natural habitat.