For our 2022 Women In Wine series, we’re shining the spotlight on incredible females in B.C.’s wine industry—like Stephanie Vickers, soil science technician, at Sebastian Farms/Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna. —Noa Nichol
Hi Stephanie! Why and how did you become a soil scientist, and when did you join Sebastian Farms/Mission Hill?
I did my undergraduate degree in environmental science at the University of Guelph and this required me to take a couple soil science courses that were being cut from the program. I really love the discipline because it combines biology, chemistry and physics, and soils are an undervalued and overlooked aspect of the environment that captured my fascination. I went on to complete my Masters degree in soil science and the rest is history! I started at Sebastian Farms almost two years ago.
What does your day-to-day at Sebastian Farms/Mission Hill look like?
My day-to-day changes considerably with the seasons. In the winter I am crunching data and developing the soils program. In the spring, summer, and fall I am outside surveying our soils. Ideally I am in a soil pit somewhere in the vineyards and in the fall I am helping with harvest.
March 8 is International Women’s Day—a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In this context, when you hear the term “women in wine” what does it mean to you?
This term always makes me think of the previous cohorts of women that have worked tirelessly in the wine industry despite historical inequity; they have paved the way for people like me.
Are there any special challenges, or benefits, to being a woman in wine? How do you maintain a work-life balance, especially during peak winemaking season?
The major benefit I have found here is the support and encouragement I have received from other women that work at this company—it is a refreshing mentality. In terms of work-life balance, I am nowhere near perfect but I do make a purposeful effort to make time for friends, family, and hobbies outside of work … no matter the season.
In your opinion, what is the perfect glass of wine with which to raise a glass to women on March 8?
My recent favourite is Mission Hill 2019 Terroir Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon. My fellow “woman in wine,” Corrie Krehbiel, is head winemaker for Mission Hill so I am a little biased 😊