The Niagara Peninsula is home to some of Canada’s finest wines, and because of the area’s diverse terroir, it seems as though not a single winery’s offerings taste like another. Home to two regional appellations according to the Vintner’s Quality Alliance system (VQA), the wineries within the Niagara Escarpment region and the Niagara-on-the-Lake region boast unique climates, topography, soil, and water supplies, which allows for even more distinction between the grapes grown in each.
Within the Niagara Escarpment is a sub-appellation called Beamsville Bench that’s filled with boutique vineyards and wineries that are a wine world unto themselves. In honor of this distinctiveness, eight Beamsville Bench wineries throw a big party called Graze the Bench each spring to celebrate another growing season and one another with a toast to new and old vintages, excellent food, and live music.
Head to Niagara June 5 to 7 for a wine and food experience in the beautiful shadow of the Niagara Escarpment.
With its east- and north-facing sloping benchlands, deep, limestone-rich soil, and cooling streams, the narrow strip of land known as Beamsville Bench receives ongoing air circulation from the escarpment that allows for remarkably consistent growing conditions and moderate temperatures. The wines that result are some of the best the Niagara Peninsula produces, which is why Graze the Bench is such a popular event.
Graze the Bench
- Thirty Bench Wine Makers
- Angels Gate
- Peninsula Ridge Estates
- Rosewood Estates Winery
- Hidden Bench
- Mike Weir Wine
- Fielding Estate Winery
- The Organized Crime Winery
The event takes what they call a “laze and graze” approach, which invites attendees to settle in, relax, and experience the beauty of the landscape, the pristine quality of the air, and the excellence of the wine and food without too much concern about hurrying to the next location. Single-day passes or weekend passes are available, and they get you in to each winery’s “grazing” area where you’ll experience a live band, wine, and food. Tickets include the experience plus a commemorative Graze the Bench glass and your first five-ounce glass of wine and your first food dish. To eat or drink more at each winery, simply pay $8 for another round.
Rock the Bench
For the first time ever, this year’s Graze the Bench will start on Friday, June 5, for a party at Thirty Bench Winery. Held from 6:30 p.m. to 11p.m., Rock the Bench will include live music, wine, craft beer, and Memphis Fire BBQ. It’s the kickoff to the entire weekend of Beamsville Bench fun, and admission is only $15.
Whether you’re a fan of Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Rielsing or Merlot, there’s an excellent glass of wine to be had at every Graze the Bench location, where you’ll also get to enjoy jazz, roots, rock and roll, and more along with delicious food from some of the area’s finest chefs and restaurants. Beamsville Bench may be a small place, but when the wineries that call its sloping lands home band together for a party, the result is unforgettable.
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