Julia Hoyle '11 - Assistant Winemaker, Sheldrake Point Winery

Julia Hoyle '11

A Day in the Life

Julia Hoyle '11 - Assistant Winemaker, Sheldrake Point Winery

by Paul Ciaccia '15

Whether she's blending reds at Sheldrake Point Winery or skating as a member of the Finger Lakes Lunachicks Roller Derby team, Julia Hoyle '11 knows all about balance.

As one of only 14 full-time employees at the 45-acre winery overlooking Cayuga Lake, Hoyle's day-to-day responsibilities can range anywhere from tying and pruning vines to testing the sulfur and pH levels of different wines in Sheldrake Point's bottling chemistry lab.

"It's all about trying to figure out the concept of balancing a wine," Hoyle says through a big smile. "I've always appreciated winemaking. At times it can be obscure, but I'm searching for the best balance in a wine. It's mother nature."

Much like a fermenting wine, Hoyle's path to assistant winemaker at Sheldrake Point wasn't without its own degree of cloudiness. After immersing herself in the robust cultures of France and Senegal for eight months during her junior year at HWS, Hoyle returned to Senegal after graduation to pursue a position teaching at the International School of Dakar.

"When I took the job in Senegal I was still very interested in the wine industry," Hoyle says. "I had been working three days a week in Fox Run Vineyard's tasting room throughout my senior year, but even then I still wasn't sure what capacity I'd be involved with it."

Now more than ever she knows her place is right here in Upstate New York. And what began as a day filled with seemingly countless tasks ends with a moment of reflection.

"If I like what I'm doing, I want to support it the best way I can. I love what I do, and I feel very lucky to be here and to work with these people."


8:20 a.m.
Caffeinate to dominate! The day begins at Opus for a hot cup of artisan coffee.


9:07 a.m.
The tying process trains vines to grow vertically. Vines are tied based on how quickly the buds come out of dormancy.


10:15 a.m.
To protect against oxidation, Sheldrake Point uses the aeration-oxidation method to help determine the amount of sulfur in the wine.


12:15 p.m.
Time for a tasting! Wine Club manager Whitney Elrod '12 and head winemaker David Breeden taste the Muscat Ottonel in the Sheldrake barrel room.


3:15 p.m.
Another way to naturally protect wine from oxidizing is by "topping" barrels. The reduced headspace in the barrel leaves less room for oxygen.


7:15 p.m.
Practice makes perfect. As part of the Finger Lakes Lunachicks Roller Derby team, Hoyle works on passing her "levels," the steps needed to participate in a bout.


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