Wine

23-year-old Idaho enologist wins prestigious wine honor

“My friends think I have the coolest job ever, and I don’t disagree with them.” - assistant winemaker Hailey Alexander

Enologist and assistant winemaker Hailey Alexander talks about her love for Idaho wines and her path to a job at Cinder Wines in Garden City.
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Enologist and assistant winemaker Hailey Alexander talks about her love for Idaho wines and her path to a job at Cinder Wines in Garden City.

Idaho’s Hailey Alexander, 23, one of the youngest winemaking talents in the Pacific Northwest, has been named a Young Leader’s Summit Scholarship winner by California-based SommCon.

Alexander, enologist for award-winning Cinder Wines in Garden City, will be honored Nov. 16-19 in San Diego during the 50-session conference that gathers Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, wine directors, wine educators, distributors and hoteliers.

Alexander, who grew up in the Boise area, is one of 16 recipients for the Young Leader’s Summit Scholarship. All the recipients are under the age of 30, but Alexander is the only winner from the production side of the wine industry. The 2016 vintage marks her third harvest as Cinder’s enologist, where she’s been an employee since age 19.

Alexander works for winemaker Melanie Krause and co-owner Joe Schnerr, the husband/wife team behind Cinder.

“I am very grateful to SommCon for giving me this opportunity, and of course Joe and Melanie’s unyielding support,” Alexander told Great Northwest Wine. “It still doesn’t feel real – being as young as I am and being given such amazing experiences.”

“We couldn’t be prouder of Hailey,” Schnerr said. “This is great news for her professionally and for our business since one of our key employees will be part of an enriching experience.

“I know both Melanie and I will be waiting to hear back from her about the ideas that she picks up there,” Schnerr said.

The awards are presented by Tasting Panel/The SOMM Journal, Wine Ring, The Society of Wine Educators and SommSelect.

Alexander joins Erica Catubig, wine director of Tom Douglas’ The Carlile Room in Seattle, as the two Young Leaders chosen from the Pacific Northwest.

Both are scheduled to participate in tastings, panel discussions and keynote presentations as well as network with wine professionals. A 90-winery trade tasting closes out the four-day conference, which is in its second year.

“I am so very excited to meet all these other young professionals and ‘nerd out’ as I like to say it!” Alexander said.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information website. Learn more about wine and see more of their stories at GreatNorthwestWine.com.

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