Texas olive-industry pioneer and San Antonio native Saundra Winokur has died

click image San Antonio native Saundra Winokur, a pioneer of Texas' olive industry, and has died. - YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT / TEXAS FARM BUREAU

  • YouTube Screenshot / Texas Farm Bureau
  • San Antonio native Saundra Winokur, a pioneer of Texas’ olive industry, and has died.

Saundra Winokur, an acclaimed pioneer of Texas olive cultivation, died last week after a years-long battle with cancer.

Winokur, who owned and operated Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard in Elmendorf, just south of San Antonio, has been known as a trailblazer in the Texas olive industry since her orchard’s 1998 inception. One of the state’s first organic commercial olive growing operations, Sandy Oaks tended its trees with sustainability in mind, using only natural fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

A member of the San Antonio chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier — a members-only organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality — Winokur offered cooking classes and hands-on workshops at the sprawling Elmendorf property. The Alamo City native also penned essays on olive cultivation to share what she learned over the years.

Sandy Oaks operated an on-site kitchen, event venue, gift shop and nursery. Before COVID-19 forced the property to operate on a curbside- and online-only basis, guests could tour the site, meander along the rows of olive trees and enjoy chef-prepared brunches under a multitude of oak trees.

The online store, featuring olive-based kitchen products and olive oil-infused skin care items, is still in operation. Representatives weren’t immediately available for comment on future operating hours of the facility.

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