Adventures in Wine Country – Daniel Lenko Estate Winery
My husband and I spent a weekend recently in Ontario’s Niagara region. After months of hard work, we decided we needed a breather. With the sun warming the air, we headed out with one mission in mind: to stop in at whatever wineries, boutique food stores and restaurants that happened to catch our fancy.
Mid-day Saturday, we manoeuvred the car up the gravel driveway that lead to a tiny 1950s-built bungalow. A big friendly Border Collie (Blackie the 5th) greeted us on the walkway. No over-the-top architectural masterpieces here, the kitchen which functioned as a tasting room, glass washing station, office and wine storage area had probably been last updated in the ’70s. This unassuming place housed none other than the Daniel Lenko Estate Winery. Once a grower with his father William Lenko, recently turned vintner, Daniel Lenko and winemaker, Ilya Senchuk, work with some of Ontario’s oldest vinifera vines. Lenko poured from 10 or 12 open bottles while we sat at the kitchen table with other wine country tourists sampling the latest releases.
Despite modern technology and Lenko’s and Senchuk’s combined experience, the winery might not be what it is today were it not for Blackie who’s “an important indicator of harvest. When he starts eating the grapes, it’s time to pick!”
Here’s a run-down of some of our favourites.
2007 Unoaked Chardonngay ($19.95) Yes, you read it correctly. It’s actually a Chardonnay, but $1 from every bottle sold is donated to AIDS research. This wine is nicely balanced with orange blossom, apple, pineapple and pear notes.
2007 Reserve Riesling ($19.95) I was immediately hit by honey and beeswax. Grapefruit, lime and orange also make it through. This is a well balanced wine with a clean, long finish.
2007 Viognier ($39.95) Granted, the price is a little steep. But this is truly an enjoyable wine filled with rose petal, passionfruit, citrus zest and a clean acidic finish.
2008 White Cabernet ($19.95) This wine containing 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is very pale in colour. Slightly sweet with lots of citrus, it’s pleasantly refreshing on a hot day.