Wine Wednesday - The View from the Bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake

As one of the four sub-appellations in Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. David’s Bench is small but mighty. Home to three remarkable wineries, it is worth a visit. Here are the goods on the St. David’s Bench wineries:

Château des Charmes

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Growing wine has been in the Bosc family for seven generations. You’ll often hear them say: “making wine is not what we do, it’s who we are”, and this comes to life every day at their winery. When Paul Bosc immigrated to Canada in 1963 he found work with Chateau Gai wines of Niagara Falls. Over a 15-year career Paul became convinced that the Canadian wine industry had to move away from the Labrusca grape and needed to adopt the estate winery model in order to re-position itself as a world-class winegrowing region. In 1978, in partnership with lawyer Rodger Gordon, he founded Château des Charmes and planted Canada’s first commercial vineyard with European vitis vinifera grape varieties, long considered impossible in Canada's climate. Since then there has been no looking back. In 1994 Château des Charmes opened its state-of-the-art winery and visitor centre – the first winery in Ontario purpose-built with the visitor in mind and immediately hailed as an agri-tourism landmark. 2016 saw an expansion of their underground cellar and reimagining of their main hospitality space. They have continued to innovate in their vineyards, featuring original research, finding new clones like Gamay Noir 'Droit' and making unusual wines like Aligoté. This March, Château des Charmes was certified by Sustainable Winemaking Ontario, recognizing their stewardship of land and vineyards.                                          

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

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Just down the road, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery is a timeless destination that is steeped in family legacy and agricultural heritage. Through the generations of the Lowrey-Harber family who have proudly farmed the land since 1867, the property has been home to many fruit orchards and vegetable plots, producing some of the finest produce in the region. In its current incarnation, the fifth generation family farm is home to organic vineyards and winery, award-winning culinary experiences, sprawling kitchen garden and grocery, distinctive event venues and community gatherings. Pair all of that with a range wines from plush Merlot to structured Cabernet to mineral-driven, elegant Chardonnay each coming from different vineyard soils and elevations on their 34-acre property and you've got many good reasons to visit.

Niagara College Teaching Winery

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Last but not least, don’t miss Niagara College Teaching Winery – the hub for wine education in the Niagara Peninsula and the only fully licensed teaching winery in Canada. The winery has been designed to highlight the full range of production and innovative techniques for winemaking, and includes a winery retail store with VQA wines from winemaker Gavin Robertson. Robertson also produces the award-winning Cider 101 and Single Batch Cider series available exclusively at the winery. Visit to taste delicious traditional method sparkling, fresh and innovative Balance wines and treat yourself to the coveted Dean’s List. The College is also home to NC Teaching Brewery and, opening in fall 2018, NC Teaching Distillery.

Learn more about the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake here: