After picnicking and hiking in Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, the southernmost part of the country, we decided to hit a winery or maybe two before heading home to the US of A. It was nearing 5:00 PM, and that always is dicey because tasting rooms tend to close around that time.
As we drove the back roads, half using the GPS and half guessing at the correct route, I saw a sign for Paglione Estate Winery. I had never heard of this one and so decided Green Dragon and I should pay a visit.
Paglione is situated on 40 acres of land in Harrow, in the heart of the Lake Erie North Shore (LENS) region. They have 10 acres of vineyards and have been open for about a year.
The building architecture is Tuscan-style and it reflects the winemaking philosophy of small batch production using estate grown or locally produced grapes.
Sam Paglione, a native of Capracotta, Italy, is the patriarch of the family and has been making wine for almost 40 years. Wife Nancy and other family members help make the winery a success.
Our first wine was the 2013 Estate Riesling. This was one of my favorites of the bunch, with citrus notes, medium acidity and a touch of sweetness. On the white side, we also tasted the 2013 Chardonnay and purchased a bottle.
For the reds, we began with the 2011 Chambourcin. Chambourcin is one of my favorite French-American hybrid grapes. The Paglione bottling is light in body, tart and awash with great strawberry flavors. This was my favorite red.
We also sampled the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2011 Cabernet. There was a slight disconnect then as the hostess informed me that Cabernet and Cabernet Sauvignon are two different grapes – say what?
We thought that perhaps the “Cabernet” might have been a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but a check of wine list showed exactly the same descriptors for both wines. Both vintages of the Cab were light, smooth and enjoyable, but without the body and depth we prefer in a Cabernet.
Other reds included the Erie red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. This was also light in body with floral notes and touches of cherry. The 2012 Cabernet Franc had pleasant flavors of mulberry and raspberry.
We weren’t quite sure where the grapes for these bottlings came from as the wines weren’t marked “estate” and the labels didn’t carry the Lake Erie North Shore VQA designation. At least some grapes may have come from the plentiful vineyards in the area. That’s not unusual for new wineries while their own vineyards mature.
As we were enjoying our tasting, the kitchen was kept hopping. We were told that the tasting room hours are a bit longer than other wineries in the area due to their popular kitchen. You can purchase a bottle of wine, sit out on their sunny patio and watch your brick oven pizza being cooked. The pizza looked delicious.
Paglione, which opened in 2013, is off to a great start. The wine, food, family atmosphere and surroundings are perfect for enjoying La Dolce Vita, Ontario style!