The Beamsville Bench

Annual Production (2021-2022): 57,706 (9L cases)
Number of Wineries: 16
Number of appellation wines: 149
Growing degree days: 1,588
Common varietals:
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling
Soil types:
Gravel, sand, silt and clay, in a heterogeneous mix with shale and dolomitic limestone
Elevation: 105m – 190m

The Beamsville Bench sub-appellation owes its name to the unique geological formation that resembles a gently sloping bench and is nestled within Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. This region, situated at N43° latitude along the Niagara Escarpment, is characterised by rich, fertile soils and unique mesoclimates. The bench macroclimate is moderated throughout the year by the Escarpment due to its sheltered position from the strong southwesterly winds.

Warming in spring happens gradually due to the relative higher elevation and the lake effect, encouraging later bud break and avoiding the risks of frost. During the growing season, the mostly north-facing vineyards benefit from continuous lake breezes, while in the fall, the escarpment slope traps warm air, extending the growing season to ensure grapes reach optimal phenological ripeness.

Breezes from the lake also help to lower humidity in the canopy during the summer months, when disease pressure is at its highest.

The soils in this appellation are generally deep and well-drained, with good water-holding capacities. They provide steady moisture to vines throughout the growing season, while the gentle slopes offer natural drainage. The fossil-rich sedimentary dolomitic rock underlying this appellation contributes to the distinct minerality found in many bench wines.

Cool-climate grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling thrive in the region, yielding terroir wines of distinct character. Wines are elegant and complex, with balanced acidity and vibrant fruit flavours.

Other varieties that shine in the appellation are Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir, Malbec, and traditional method sparkling wines aged on the lees. Growers in the region embrace sustainable and organic growing practices.

Grapes on a vine