With International Women’s Day in sight, we’re shining the spotlight on Amy Paynter, winemaker at Liquidity Wines in Okanagan Falls. —Noa Nichol
Hi Amy! Tell us about yourself.
I studied winemaking and viticulture at university in New Zealand. I was drawn to it as it encompasses three aspects that bring me great joy: being creative, being analytical and a little mad scientist- y, and being out in nature. I spent 10-plus years in the industry in New Zealand, South Africa and California before feeling an increasing desire to get back into cool-climate varieties. I’d heard a bit about the Okanagan Valley, but hadn’t had the chance to taste any wines from there. A three-day visit was all it took for me to fall in love with the area, the wines and the incredible soils. To be a part of a winemaking region with such diversity—both climatic and varietal—was an opportunity I couldn’t miss! I joined the Liquidity team in April of 2021 and haven’t looked back since.
What’s your day-to-day like?
One of the best parts of winemaking is that there is really no set average day. I might start my week off focusing on marketing projects, mid-week be doing blending trials and, by Friday, cleaning empty barrels! The variability of my days keeps everything fresh and fun!
What makes winemaking at Liquidity so special?
My goal is always to make wines that are bright and fresh, with concentration and balance that showcase the soils and climate they are grown in. The fruit should always be the star of the show, and our viticulture team puts so much hard work and soul into growing us beautiful fruit it would be a shame for me to come in and smother that with excessive winemaking influence. It’s an honour to be able to take the fruit grown so meticulously here and make wines that bring people happiness and joy.
When you hear the term “women in wine” what does it mean to you?
To me personally the fi rst word that comes to mind is inspirational. It’s for sure a challenge being female in a male-dominant industry, and seeing the achievements of women around me in the industry is a constant reminder that heck, yeah, we can do this! Any special challenges, or bene ts, to being a woman in wine? There’s always an element of discrimination when you’re a women in a physically demanding and mentally challenging role—whether that’s wine or other industries. I was lucky enough to work for a women-owned-and-run winery as my fi rst venture into the industry, and they all instilled very strong ideals in me. You’ll very rarely fi nd me asking for help lifting something heavy, and it’s always a delight to see the occasional look of surprise on people’s faces when I tell them I can drive a forklift and a tractor. But I feel very fortunate that my positive experiences in the wine industry significantly outweigh the negatives. The wine industry is still a very male-dominated one, but I love seeing the progress and continued spotlight on this issue.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
To be very honest, I’m terrible at this, and it’s defi nitely something I’m working on. But the support of my co-workers, friends and loved ones sure helps. Our Liquidity family here is also fantastic—during harvest our hospitality team will do a daily mental health check-in with our winery team, to make sure the grapes haven’t gotten the better of us!
In your opinion, what is the perfect Liquidity wine with which to raise a glass to women?
Our handcrafted 2021 Estate Viognier, for which each block of fruit was carefully handpicked, sorted and whole-cluster pressed. The flavour profiles being expressed by the fruit called out for stainless-steel fermentation, but we did add some new French oak barrels in there, too—just to give the wine an extra boost of luxuriousness.
We know why people should taste Liquidity’s wines, but why should they visit the winery?
In general, we have an absolutely incredible view from the tasting room, unparalleled in the Okanagan Valley. Our tasting experiences off er a chance to get behind-the scenes information on our vineyards, organics, our winemaking decisions, plus access to limited, tasting room-exclusive wines. In terms of special events, we’ll be releasing our 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir at the end of March, and in summer we miiiight have a secret new rose that you’ll have to come visit us to try and buy! Last but not least, we hear there’s going to be an exciting culinary opening at Liquidity this spring? Yes, the secret’s out! The Restaurant at Liquidity will open on April 15, fi ve days a week, for a two-course wine-paired lunch! Using a wine-led philosophy, chef Joshua Mueller will serve up dishes full of freshness and creativity, staged with colour, flavour and subtleties to stir your senses and enchant your palate. And, of course, our masterfully crafted wine will play a focal point in harmoniously portraying the essence of Liquidity Wines’ terroir. Yet another great reason to come and visit us!