Laurentia Celebrates its First Estate Wine

Less than a year after its opening, Laurentia Vineyard & Winery in Madison has launched its first estate wine, a 2013 Chardonnay that brightens the palate like a cool lemon bar. The sunny golden wine is crisp without being overly citrusy, with just enough acid that it leaves no after-coating on the tongue – no “lard effect,” owner Leonard Blackie says, that you get with some Chardonnays.

The winery itself is a build-it-and-they-will-come success. “We didn’t advertise or announce our opening – just went out one day and stuck a flag at the entrance,” says Blackie, who partnered with his brother, Gary, to start the business. “By the third day we were standing room only.”

It’s an achievement for someone who just discovered wine about a decade ago. A machinist by training, Leonard – the hands-on brother – learned about vineyards by working for years alongside a horticulturist. He named Laurentia after the geology of his land, covered eons ago by a thick layer of ice called the Laurentide glacier. Laurentia also is the name of the delicate, star-shaped flower featured in the winery’s logo.

Blackie cares about such details. The long, elegant driveway was intentionally curved to avoid chopping down precious trees. Walls and beams are reclaimed barn wood, and look closely at the rain catchers; you’ll see they’re tiny grape clusters. Even the steps to the terrace are reclaimed Cleveland street curbs.

Laurentia’s wines get the same careful attention. At just .9 percent residual sugar, the Gewürztraminer is drier than expected: “We try to keep the residual sugar of all our wines down. That’s our style,” Blackie says. We also tasted the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon – no complaints. “Non-estate reds will be part of my portfolio for a few years,” he says. For now, red grapes are carefully curated from vineyards he knows well.

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