OLIVER, British Columbia – For anyone who has been stymied because they cannot find Okanagan Valley wines south of the 49th parallel, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards has a solution.
Long frustrated that people in her native California’s Sonoma County couldn’t taste her wines without traveling to Canada, Tinhorn Creek President and CEO Sandra Oldfield finally has a way to share her Merlot, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and more.
“For the first time since moving to Canada 20 years ago, I can now send our wines to my family and friends in the U.S.,” she said.
Oldfield and her husband, Kenn, met while studying at the University of California-Davis. They launched Tinhorn Creek in 1993 just north of the U.S. border and made their first wines in 1994. Through the years, Tinhorn Creek has been one of the most progressive wineries in marketing, promotion, food, sustainability and charities.
But like all wineries in British Columbia, they have struggled to make their wines available to consumers beyond their borders. Shaun Everest, vice president of Tinhorn Creek, said the winery distributed wines for a short time in the Pacific Northwest, but that was difficult.
Oldfield, who has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, still has lots of family back in California.
“It’s been a sore point that Sandra’s family can’t taste her wines,” Everest told Great Northwest Wine.
Now Tinhorn Creek is using a California-based company called Ship it Home to provide direct-to-consumer sales of many of its wines. Everest said the company made it easy for Tinhorn Creek by handling all label and other compliance issues, importing the wine to the United States and handling all shipping and fulfillment.
“They know how to do it,” he said. “They made it pretty seamless.”
Through Ship it Home, Tinhorn Creek is offering six of its wines to consumers in 34 states (including Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California). Tinhorn Creek fans will be able to purchase a case at a time (of any or all of the wines offered) with a flat shipping rate of $29.95.
The six wines are:
- 2013 Pinot Gris
- 2013 Gewürztraminer
- 2013 Oldfield Series 2Bench White
- 2011 Cabernet Franc
- 2010 Oldfield Series Merlot
- 2010 Oldfield Series 2Bench Red
The wines are priced the same as they are in the Tinhorn Creek tasting room, and no additional tariffs are added to the costs. All of the wines can be ordered through Tinhorn Creek’s website.
Customers want Tinhorn Creek, other B.C. wines in U.S.
Everest said the winery’s wine club manager began looking at Ship at Home because of the repeated questions Tinhorn Creek would get whenever a visitor from the United States would ask about availability back home.
“We thought it was a natural,” he said. “Being so close to the border, it’s a question we get asked a lot.”
Everest said Tinhorn Creek is the first B.C. winery to offer this service, but he doesn’t expect it will be the last, based on keen interest in Okanagan Valley wines from U.S. consumers.
“I’m sure that when (other wineries) hear about it, they will try to find out what we’re doing,” he said.
After hearing about Tinhorn Creek’s shipping solution, Roland Kruger of Wild Goose Vineyards in Okanagan Falls said he is interested in finding out more.
“The U.S. is just 30 miles away from us, yet we’re not able to ship into it,” he said. “We’ve always been interested in shipping to U.S. customers, but it’s just too complex to do.”
Kruger, who runs the family winery with his parents and winemaking brother, Hagen, said he regularly gets requests from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida for his wines.
This shipping solution comes in the midst of Tinhorn Creek’s 20th anniversary celebration, in which it is staging 20 major events this spring, summer and fall. Everest said the winery already has done a few events in Vancouver and is inviting back some of its favorite musical groups for its summer concert series. And June 8, it will put on a crab feast in honor of Sandra Oldfield’s birthday.