Our wines at Ravine Vineyard are often described as “elegant” or “refined”. This style is as much a result of the terroir as it is of Lydia Tomek's organic viticulture efforts. The Terroir of the estate can be segregated into three main sections – the upper bench (‘the top’), the slope (‘the hillside’) and the bottom – and each has completely different compositions. Along with matching the variety of the grape to the soil’s inherent composition, we took into account the complementary characteristics of carefully selected clones and rootstocks.
The soils on the top east side of the property, under a shallower, slower flowing part of the old river, are higher in clay; an ideal location for planting Merlot. Just west of there, where the clay loam ends abruptly, the soils are mostly sand (with a low percentage of silty loam) the result of faster waters scouring the river’s bed. There we have planted Cabernets. On the ‘hillside’, after 5,500 years of erosion on these small but relatively steep slopes, the soil is thin, sparse and very mineral – conducive to the growth of some very low-cropping, Burgundy-style Chardonnay. Lastly, there’s the bottom of the slope, part of the bed of historic Lake Iroquois, rich in deposits of humus and organic material. There, we planted Chardonnay Musqué, which takes advantage of this extra vigor in the production of fresh, vibrant flavours.
Lydia Tomek, Winemaker
Lydia Tomek is our Head Winemaker at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery. In 1999, she started studying Winemaking and Grape Growing by enrolling in the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Degree Program at Brock. After completing her thesis in Viticulture, and working a couple of vintages in Niagara, Lydia graduated Top of her class and later began her Winemaking career at the age of 23 making her one of the youngest winemakers in Canada at the time.
Over the last two decades she has made her imprint on the Ontario wine industry as a Award Winning Winemaker developing her craft at various Niagara wine estates, as well helping to develop a new up and coming wine region, focused on making appassimento wines (Burning Kiln, Norfolk). Lydia is proud and excited to make the future wines of Ravine Vineyard grown organically on our unique site and will continue to elevate the wine portfolio making world class terroir driven wines.
Our unique 34-acre organic winery is located in the sub-appellation of Niagara called St. Davids Bench. Although our neighbouring growers also enjoy the fortuitous 20 percent higher temperatures of this sub-appellation, this property is an anomaly; the soils are lighter, its airflow and water drainage more consistent, and its perch on the Bench is at its highest elevation.
The family farm sits atop the river channel of the ancestral Niagara River as it once raged, 22,800 years ago, as part of an ancient drainage system that drained melted water from the thick surrounding glaciers. The massive volume of water the river carried hollowed out a gorge over one kilometer long. When the third glacier retreated 12,500 years ago, it emptied into this gorge massive amounts of glacial silt, filling it to the shoreline and plugging it up so completely it would never reopen again. The river’s waters, not to be denied in their downward imperative to the sea, rerouted to the present channel where the Niagara River now flows as it empties into Lake Ontario. Geologists refer to the earth below our vineyard as part of The St. Davids Buried Gorge.