Our Story – Leonhardt Vineyards, Lionheart Wines and Cider
Leonhardt Vineyards, Lionheart Wines, Lionheart Cider and Leonhardt Brew Works are in the business of producing high quality craft wines, ciders and beer following sustainable agriculture practices and a social good impact business model.
Our Story –
In 1971 Howard Leonhardt’s parents moved the family from Minnesota to Visalia, California in the San Joaquin Valley. As 9 year old Howie walked to Mountain View Elementary School via a dirt road that cut through a vineyard he gazed out over those vines and
dreamed one day he might own a vineyard like that one. In 1990 Howard, a young struggling inventor of products for treating heart disease, brought his young family for a vacation to Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County following one of the heart disease conferences
in San Francisco where he had a small exhibit booth for his fledgling inventions. He remembered his walks as a 9 year old in California and the smells and sounds. They visited the Ferrari Carano winery. He thought it was the single most beautiful place he
ever saw on earth. In his wildest dreams he never would have believed that just 10 years later he would sell his patented invention of a stent graft for repairing aortic aneurysms without open chest surgery to Medtronic Vascular of Sonoma County and end up
buying the 15 acres directly across from Ferrari Carano.
There were no vines planted on this property that was previously sheep grazing land. The Leonhardt’s worked to clear the land and planted 7 acres with old vines purchased from St. Peter’s Catholic Church, leaving the other 8 acres natural habitat (commitment
to sustainable agriculture). They produced their first vintage in 2005 and in the fall of 2009 they entered their first medals competition at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and won a gold medal for their 2007 Zinfandel.
In 2010 Leonhardt Vineyards became the official wine sponsor of the San Francisco Giants with two behind-home-plate ads. The Giants had not won the World Series ever in San Francisco. That year with Leonhardt luck on their side the Giants won their first World
Series since they moved to San Francisco in the 1950’s.
That same year Leonhardt Vineyards sponsored the first year of Wine Country Baseball in Sonoma and Napa counties with 12 teams showcasing yet un-signed college and amateur players hoping to be spotted by MLB scouts.
Ryan Leonhardt, Howard’s son, loved the vineyards from the first time he saw them as a young kid. He decided to make it his life work and attended Santa Rosa Jr. College courses on viticulture, wine business management and wine making. He also studied under
and learned from master wine makers in Sonoma County and took over a good share of vineyard and winery operations in 2011.
He and his wife Kelly were married in Sonoma County and moved to the property and a year thereafter added baby Penelope Leonhardt (named after Ryan’s grandma and Howard’s mother Penelope Leonhardt that passed away of bone marrow cancer in 1995 at age 49), now
a third generation vintner in the making in the family.
In 2012 Leonhardt Vineyards began sponsoring wine tasting events at the Los Angeles Kings hockey games at Staples Center, hosting doctors, restaurant and wine shop boutique owners. Howard and Ryan Leonhardt, father and son, still play on the same roller hockey
team together when they can for pickup games on holiday breaks and played a number of years in the same organized adult league on the same team, Ryan at Center and Howard at Left Wing on the same line. The Los Angeles Kings had never won a Stanley Cup in their
entire 45 year history. With Leonhardt luck with them in 2012 they won their first ever Stanley Cup.
Howard has been going back to Minnesota, where he grew up and went to school, to speak to students at his alma maters since 1999 and in 2013 he met Jason Dayton and a team of students at the University of Minnesota MBA Entrepreneurship Program that had a dream
to create a craft cider business. They decided to work together and the team chose the name LIONHEART for their brand.
In 2014 the Leonhardt’s teamed up with Leon Glover of Lionheart Wines of Santa Barbara to expand their varietals. That same year Brandon Paulson one of the players that played in the Leonhardt sponsored Wine Country Baseball Classic for the Healdsburg team
was signed to a major MLB contract with the Minnesota Twins. This past year Leonhardt Vineyards sponsored the 5th Annual Wine Country Baseball Classic
Howard’s Grandfather Howard C. Leonhardt worked in the brewery industry in Minnesota for over 50 years as a grain shovel operator and union leader. He passed away at age 94 a decade ago and just this past year, Howard and Ryan, decided to dedicate a craft oak aged beer to his memory as well his wife Gert, our Grandma. We wish he and Grandma were here to taste the first vintage they would be so proud. This beer is produced at this time in Eureka, California by one of Ryan’s college friends in a contract facility.
Howard Leonhardt has patented over 20 products for treating heart and cardiovascular disease to date. Over 800,000 patients have been treated with Leonhardt inventions and the most exciting products of all are in the pipeline under development now including
the first ever implantable stem cell pump + microcurrent regeneration stimulator for regenerating failing hearts with living cells. The Leonhardt’s utilize 50% of the profits from wine, beer and cider sales to help finance this revolutionary life saving research.
Over 7 million Americans are on the path to die of heart failure in the next 5 years and we believe our inventions represent the best hope for these patients. A purchase of our wines, beers and ciders helps save lives.