Wineries & Breweries
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Crown Bench Estates
Peter and Olivia will welcome you to their winery with stories and tastings that will make a positive and long lasting impression. You don't go to Crown Bench to just talk about the weather; although Peter may give you a lesson on climatology that will help your understanding of all things meterological! Crown Bench Estates is based on a simple idea that in order to make a great wine you have to have quality grapes. There are no substitutes.
Located on the Beamsville Bench, Crown Bench Estates has one of the premier locations for growing wine grapes. On the southern border of the property is the Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve. The Bruce Trail runs along the crest of the Escarpment and is just one hundred meters behind the winery. The view from the vineyard, of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Skyline is spectacular. The natural features of the property include streams, waterfalls, ponds (with nesting Canada Geese and ducks) and bordering forests filled with wildlife, making Crown Bench a definite destination and not merely a winery. On winter mornings families of deer greet Olivia as she starts her day. In the evening, great horned owls hoot and call to them from the neighbouring forest.
Wine expert Konrad Ejbich mentioned on his January 2009 CBC radio programme, that Crown Bench started the verjus (a.k.a. vertjus or verjuice) trend. They were making and promoting this unique grape juice product before anyone else in Canada. Verjuis is the juice of grapes that have not ripened nor been fermented; it is an acidic replacement for lemon. In use since the 1500s, it can be used as a substitute for wine in salad dressings. It tastes great on its own as an aperitif (in tiny amounts), and is the main ingredient for many recipes, which Olivia has available on her website. Of course it is for sale in their unique and beautiful wine tasting retail shop. Verjuis would make a unique housewarming present!
Carla Carlson from Niagara Nature, Wine & Garden Tours points out on her culinary adventures, that if you want to follow the 100 Mile Diet and eat locally, that verjuis is an exciting local substitute for exotic, tropical lemons.
Olivia's Perky Peach Salad Dressing with verjuis and no oil has been a real hit. Made with Red Haven peaches picked the day she processes them, her window of opportunity for making this fresh dressing is short. Her philosophy is to always make her delicious concoctions in season, and most importantly, the day the fruit is picked. She points out that tender fruit is ephemeral, and cannot about without losing flavour and vitamins. She shudders at the thought of making condiments from frozen fruit. While it would allow her to do this production in the quieter winter season, that is definitely against her philosophy. So when you eat her Blueberry Ketchup made from local blueberries, picked just to the west of her up on the Escarpment, you are eating summer sunshine captured in the jar.
QEW exit 64, Beamsville (Ontario Street)
Left on South Service Road at lights
Right on Bartlett Avenue
Cross King Street/Regional Road 81 -> Bartlett turns into Aberdeen Road
Continue to the end at the very base of the Niagara Escarpment
Park and enjoy the view!
Livia Sipos, Grape Grower of the Year 2004 - 2005
Niagara Nature Tours: http://www.niagaranaturetours.ca/
100 Mile Diet: Local Eating for Global Change: http://100milediet.org/