For July's 2 Bottles & 2 Questions, we're please
d to feature Lydia Lynn Tomek, a young and insightful Niagara winemaker...

Born: November 18, 1980 in Welland Ontario.
The second of three daughters born to Croatian parents Mira and Marijan Tomek.

Education: Honours Bsc Oenology and Viticulture, Brock University, graduated in 2004 as most Distinguished Graduating Student in the program.

Hobbies: Black belt in Shotokan Karate, soccer, basketball, volleyball, Rock band, painting, and playing my guitar.

Work Experience:
While studying at Brock I worked everywhere from the vineyards at the grape research station to the tasting bar at 13th Street, to the bottling line at Henry of Pelham, and then to the cellars at Hillebrand.

After graduation, I did a year of contract winemaking at Hillebrand, followed by a year contract at Jackson-Triggs. Now I am entering my third vintage with Hernder and Harvest Estate Wines as Head Winemaker.

2 Questions

What was it that inspired you to be a winemaker, and similarly, one in Niagara?

When I was 18 I decide to go to school and become a Winemaker. Although I was very young and not even legally able to consume wine, I saw it as a unique profession where I would work with "delicious chemistry". I found it intriguing that I could be a part of a craft that has existed for thousands of years, where people took gifts from the earth and made it into something that could be ceremonious and pleasurable. It's a profession where I could combine my love for creativity, chemistry, marketing and viticulture all at the same time, while bringing joy to people along the way.

I was born and raised in the Niagara region and I also studied Oenology and Viticulture here @ Brock for almost 5 years. It only seems natural that I would stay here in Niagara to make wine since I lived here all my life and experienced the same elements/terroir as the vines which grow here. I love it here and it’s in my blood to stay here for a while.

If you were to give one piece of advice on life, and on wine, what would it be?

One word: balance. I'm discovering that in order to make a wine and live a good life with true character, longevity, and strength you need balance. When it comes to wine you require: balance in the vineyards (i.e soil chemistry, water management, vigor, fruit load), balance in the wine chemistry (acidity, sweetness, alcohol, tannin), and balance in how you control the fermentation (nutrients, fining, temperature, etc). Life is the same way. When a person achieves balance in how they live (professionally, personally, pleasurably) their presence on earth is at its truest/fullest potential. Balance is the hardest thing to achieve but it's an ongoing effort that I always work towards, and I find that people that I look up to all seem to have their balance in check.

2 Bottles

First Pick (and always my first pick)...Hernder Estate Wines 2006 "Pink" Price $12.95 ($3 dollars from each sale goes towards cancer in Niagara)

I loved this wine before I even knew this wine. When I was 24 my good friend whom I known since kindergarten was diagnosed with cancer. It was very difficult for me to understand and process. For the first time in my life I could not fix the situation and all I could do is be supportive. Then I had an idea....In October 06, I approached the Hernder family and asked them if they would support me and allow me to make a wine (an off dry rose) which I would name Pink and raise money for Cancer. They gave me the green light and now it was time for me to make the wine. I knew one thing and that was that "Pink" was going to be a rose, but I wasn't sure how I was going to do it.

One morning in December, I was tasting my ferments and I was at my sauvignon blanc tank (the last one of the white tasting). It still had a way to go yet but the acidity and bouquet was really tropical and soft at the same time. After that I was on to the reds. Conveniently, I had a batch of cab sauv fermenting right next to the sauv blanc and it was very berry, the tannins were soft and it was almost done. Then it came to me, I am going to blend these two wines together to make Pink!

It would be a blend of mother and child (sauv blanc is the mother to cab sauv). A metaphor for life where there is balance between masculinity and femininity, strength and serenity, hard and soft.....So I did it..... I blended the two together. It was perfect harmony and the wine gods approved.

I still remember the day that I went to the tank and tasted it for the first time. I had this rush in my chest where I was so happy and proud of what was happening that I almost started crying. My dream of "Pink" was coming true right before my palate. We were working towards something so good and so needed in the region. The aftermath of "Pink" has now snowballed with the creation and partnership of the Hernder-Picasso Foundation where through the sales of "Pink" and various other fundraising events we have raised approximately $25,000 with another 15 still to come if all of the wine sells out. The wine speaks for it self. It’s a delicious wine great for any occasion and most importantly it's a great cause. So please enjoy this wine as it comes from my heart to your glass.

Second Pick: Casa de La Emita-Crianza 2002 (Blend of Tempranillio, Monstrel, and Cab Sauv)

What can I say, I love all things from Spain, and tempranillo is one of them. I remember receiving a bottle of this wine as a gift and it's a wine that has stuck is my head since then. The things that I loved about this wine was that the three fruits (majority of it being tempranillo) was so beautifully integrated and expressed. Not to mention so full of terroir. This wine had a beautiful nose...just slightly earthy, very rich in berry and slight spice and there was something else there. Perhaps a minerality or slight brininess????? It was like I was sipping this wine on the Spanish coast surround by beautiful plains and gorgeous seas. I felt like I was able to taste the earth and sea. I also loved how nice the tannins worked and complimented the great distinctive mid palate in this wine. The finish was lingering and a combination of ripe plum soft leather and melted brown awesome.

For more information on L
ydia Tomek, please visit