Alumni duo Nadia and Ilya Senchuk paired their passion for winemaking and entrepreneurship to open Leaning Post Wines.
It was a leap of faith they were both trained to make.
Nadia, a 2007 graduate of Brock’s MBA program with a concentration in finance, always dreamed of owning her own business.
Ilya, a graduate of Brock’s oenology and viticulture program (BSc ’03), knew he always wanted to make wine.
“We thought if a good winemaker and someone who has a strong business sense and a love for the wine industry can’t make it work in this industry, who can?” says Nadia.
After graduating from Brock, Nadia put her risk-assessment knowledge to work at RBC Royal Bank where she spent four years in commercial banking providing entrepreneurs with the financing they needed to help turn their dreams into a reality. While working with these entrepreneurs, she started crunching her own numbers and realized that maybe her own ambitions were within reach.
The couple had often talked about opening a winery one day. After seriously looking at the numbers, they realized that the dream was in reach if they approached it the right way. They launched Leaning Post Wines as a virtual label in 2009, built their brand and opened the winery and retail store in Winona, Ont., four years later.
Their journey started when Ilya read a brochure about Brock’s Oenology and Viticulture program in 1999, knew that winemaking was his passion and transferred to Brock immediately.
He never looked back.
“I knew right away that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he says.
For Nadia, the Goodman MBA was the perfect fit to build her business knowledge and skills so she could one day work in the same industry as her husband. She initially started the MBA with the hope of concentrating in marketing but soon realized she enjoyed the world of finance.
Nadia credits Leaning Post’s growth to both degrees and describes her experience in the Goodman MBA as immeasurable.
“The Goodman MBA program is so valuable because it gives you a strong base in strategy, legal, marketing, finance and more,” she says. “You need to know every facet of business to make it work as an entrepreneur. Without my MBA, we would be struggling now. I would rather invest in human capital for ourselves than pay a consultant to help us grow our business.”
Leaning Post Wines is comprised of three employees. Strong connections have already been built with both customers and growers.
Their aim is to make the best quality wine possible and to showcase what Niagara tastes like in a glass.
There is no separation between winemaking and sales at Leaning Post, and customers know that the people they talk with during a tasting are intimately involved with the winemaking process.
Ilya takes pride in the uniqueness of Leaning Post’s wines and the winery, which is a charming restored barn on their family’s property.
“No one else’s wines taste exactly like ours, which is really the point,” Ilya says. “All of our wines are usually from one vineyard in one particular area in Niagara. We’re not making every kind of wine possible. Instead, we concentrate on a small number of varieties that do well each year and focus on achieving the highest quality we can from them.”