Spotlight On: Lionheart Wines



By Kori ~ January 30th, 2009.

Lionheart Wines, located in Half Moon Bay, California, was founded in 2005 by owner/winemaker Leon C. Glover III. Leon has had the dream of making wine since he was a boy and admired his father’s extensive wine collection. Due to high start up costs and the knowledge required to start a winery, he put his dream on hold while he worked as a software engineer to pay the bills. Several years ago, he found himself looking to change industries as the joy he had in developing high-tech products was fading.

“I did not want to wake up 55 years old in a cube farm somewhere wondering why I did not enjoy life more.” –Leon C. Glover III, owner/winemaker

20090130_lionheartLeon has taught himself about winemaking through reading books on the subject, taking the WSET Diploma course, and being a cellar rat for two harvests at Crushpad, a custom crush facility in San Francisco. In fact, his full-time switch to winemaking came as a result of a Christmas present from his wife, adopting a barrel of wine from Crushpad. As the owner of the wine, he had control of how it was handled until bottling. He found the whole process fascinating and was officially hooked. This is great news for you and me as in just three short years, he is already producing excellent wines.

Prior to the Wine Bloggers Conference in October, I knew nothing about Lionheart Wines. Leon was on hand pouring his 2007 Lionheart Wines McGinley Vineyard Roussanne during the Live Wine Blogging event. It was excellent…crisp, creamy, and refreshing! Recently, I had the opportunity to taste four more Lionheart wines, the 2007 The Angel’s Share (White Blend), the 2007 Pinot Noir, the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2005 Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard Syrah.

As a group, I was blown away by Lionheart’s wines. All four wines were good, but I especially enjoyed the Pinot Noir and the Syrah. In fact, the 2007 Lionheart Pinot Noir is one of the best Pinots that I’ve ever tasted. This is an excellent wine, not just an excellent Pinot. I would gladly drink it anytime, with a meal or without. And regular readers know that it’s not often that I give high praise to a Pinot. Apparently others agree as the 2007 Pinot Noir was recently awarded with a gold medal at the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in the $35 and higher category.

Syrah, on the other hand, is probably my favorite varietal. And we have definitely had more than our fair share of Syrah over the last year. Lionheart’s 2005 Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard Syrah rates right up there with some of the best we’ve had; certainly among the best California Syrah we’ve tasted. It’s big and bold, just the way I like it.

“I differentiate myself from other winemakers based on my wine style (food-friendly wines made at a good price point), a willingness to experiment with new techniques and varietals, and passion to produce great wines for my friends and family.  I want my wines to be served proudly for family and friends over social gatherings where people ‘suck the marrow out of life.’” –Leon C. Glover III, owner/winemaker

Currently, Lionheart produces about 300 cases each year. They have plans to ramp up their production as their brand gains traction. As a self-taught chef, Leon strives to produce food-friendly wines. Going forward, he plans to select a few varietals to become his signature varietals. Right now he is leaning towards focusing on Pinot Noir and the Rhone varietals. Given the fact that I really enjoyed his Pinot Noir and Syrah, I think that is a wise decision. I encourage you to try to get your hands on a bottle or two of Lionheart wine and enjoy.

2007 Lionheart Wines Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, California): Very aromatic with cherry, cotton candy, and burnt rubber coming through on the nose. Medium-bodied and medium tannins with lively acidity. Full of cranberry flavors. Well-balanced and a medium finish. One of the best Pinots I’ve ever had.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $40; AmericanWinery.com (Washington), $42

2005 Lionheart Wines Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard Syrah (Mendocino, California): Deep ruby red with a wonderful nose of black fruits, spice, and leather. More black fruits and spice as well as a good dose of black pepper comes through on the palate. Full-bodied and powerful with a long, lingering finish. A big, bold, well-balanced wine.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $35; AmericanWinery.com (Washington), $37


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Spotlight On, White Wine, Wines Over $25

Leave a Comment