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Lailey Vineyard Winery
Terry Sullivan

Summary: Donna and David Lailey who had developed a passion for the vineyard and wine established Lailey Vineyard Winery. Small batches of wine are handcrafted and produced here. Be sure to call ahead and ask about a tour.

Lailey Vineyard WineryDriving along the beautiful Niagara Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, you’ll notice several wineries and vineyards. Grapevines have been planted in this area for many decades and this area has the warmest temperatures in the appellation. Lailey Vineyard Winery produces small batches of wines from their 23 acres of vineyards. Over ten varieties of grapes grow in sandy loam to red clay. In 1970, Donna and David Lailey planted 20 acres of vines. They have since added three more acres. Donna was the only female founding member of the VQA and along with David is very active in the winery. David was on his tractor working in the vineyard during our visit.

Variations in soil allows the winemaker, Derek Barnett, to blend the same variety grape grown in different soils or make a single varietal wine from the different soils. The grapes are hand harvested and the vineyard is herbicide free. They do not use chemical fertilizers in the vineyard and only spray for insects if the insects appear. Traditional rose bushes guard the rows of vines proudly displaying their dark red leaves in contrast to the new green growth of the grapevines. The vineyard is well cared for and one can observe the popular Scott Henry trellis system.

Lailey Vineyard WineryLailey Vineyard WineryWe met Ed Haddon who took us on a tour of the winery and conducted our wine tasting. Ed is the winery’s sommelier and enjoys tasting from the barrels. Two barrel storage cellars are in use aging wines. Arches frame a variety of oak barrels in one cellar. We noticed a few barrels made from Canadian oak. We tasted a Chardonnay and some Pinot Noirs from different barrels. The type of barrel and its age influences the taste of the wine. The 2007 vintage promises to be an excellent vintage as these wines were already developing complex characteristics.

Lailey Vineyard WineryThe second barrel storage room is in a building that houses the tasting room, offices, lab, stainless steel tank room and storage. One can look down onto the tasting room from a second floor area that can be used for events. The barrel room has a small tasting bar for tasting from the oak barrels. We tasted Cabernet Franc and Syrah from different barrels again noting the differences in bouquet and taste from the different barrels.

Lailey Vineyard Winery produces 7,000 cases of wine and would like to increase production to about 10,000 cases.
We tasted several wines in the tasting room. The 2007 Riesling had an apple and citrus nose and taste. It was crisp on the finish. The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc offered melons on the nose and had a melon and apple taste. It finished crisp and had a long lingering aftertaste. Aged in French oak for ten months, the 2005 Chardonnay was smooth with a vanilla and caramel taste, crisp finish and oak flavor on the aftertaste.

Lailey Vineyard WineryA grape variety that was new to us, Zweigelt, was originally from Austria. The 2005 Zweigelt had a red berry nose and taste with a crisp finish and soft tannins. This would make a great introductory red for white wine drinkers. The 2006 Pinot Noir had a red brick color, raspberry nose and taste and light crisp finish. The 2005 Cabernet was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It had raspberries on the nose and taste, good tannins, a crisp finish and a long fruit aftertaste. The 2006 Syrah was aged in French oak and had a spicy and cedar nose. We observed a dark red fruit taste with black pepper and cedar on the finish.

We had the opportunity to taste two dessert wines. The Vidal Late Harvest was smooth with a floral nose and pineapple taste. The 2005 Vidal Icewine was aged in barrels and had a deep golden color. It had a honeysuckle nose and peach taste. Both dessert wines were balanced between sugar and acid.

Visiting Lailey Vineyard and Winery is a leisurely activity. Take the time to observe the vineyard and the trellis system. You can squat down and look between the top and bottom cordons and see through the vineyard. Observe the barrel cellars and enjoy the crafted small batch wines.

Lailey Vineyard Winery
15940 Niagara Parkway
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

GPS N 43° 23.178' W 079° 06.291'

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