Photo: Winemaker Stephanie Stanley
One of Andrew Peller Ltd.’s top winemakers, Stephanie Stanley, is leaving the Kelowna winery to begin
work in March, 2015, at Wither Hills in New Zealand.
“It is something I have always dreamt of doing,” she says.
“When I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, I figured out that
winemaking is something where I could incorporate science, which is my skill,
and my love for travelling and languages. I thought wine can take me around the
Her departure leaves a hole in the Okanagan winemaking
talent pool. She joined Calona Wines in 2003 upon graduating from Brock University
enology program. An honours graduate, she won the President’s Medal as the
Brock’s top graduate that year.
When Andrew Peller acquired Calona in 2005, Howard Soon
, the senior winemaker at Calona and
Sandhill Wines, gave Stephanie responsibility for making the Peller wines in
the Okanagan. A few years ago, she also added the same role for making Wayne
Gretzky Okanagan wines. Her wines have won three Lieutenant Governor’s awards
of excellence (among other awards).
A native of Kelowna,
Stephanie discovered her avocation when she took time off from studying
college-level science to work six months in a restaurant in Germany’s Pfalz
“There were wine festivals every weekend, every other
weekend,” she remembers. “Working in the restaurant, I just loved the social
aspect of it and just loved the whole industry. It brought people together. It
was a good lifestyle. I realized there is some kind of science involved in it
and that’s where I figured I could apply my science skills.”
Her future intentions include spending a year making wine in
(she speaks the language). She would also like to gain some experience in Alsace.
“My favourite varieties I like to work on are Syrah, Pinot
Noir and Riesling,” she says. “And I love Alsacian Gewürztraminer.”
Stephanie’s first exposure to New Zealand
winemaking came in 2010
when she spend two months there during the crush. During that time, she and her
husband, Bud, toured a number of wineries, including Wither Hills in Marlborough
She began keeping an eye out for opportunities to work in New Zealand
again. Late last year, she applied when Wither Hills posted a one-year job to
replace a winemaker on maternity leave. Stephanie was the runner-up among the
applicants but Wither Hills was sufficiently impressed to give her a four-month
contract as an assistant winemaker and shift supervisor.
It gives her a foot in the door, should other opportunities
She and Bud, who is managing editor for several online
magazines, are making a fairly definitive break with Kelowna by selling their house. However,
current plans will have them back in the Okanagan in August and perhaps another
crush before heading off to other wineries abroad.
“I will be winemaker at large for a while, as long as we can
make it work,” she says. “Eventually, I would love to come back to the
Okanagan. I love what we have done with the industry here and where it is