Snowshoeing in the Thirty Bench Vineyard
Maarten | On 29, Jan 2014
January 25, 2014: Beamsville, Ontario
It’s a chilly, blustery and snowy -10 Celsius in Beamsville, so a glass of mulled wine is the happy reward for those of us who have made the drive from Toronto to Thirty Bench for Snowshoeing in the Vineyard.
Thirty Bench is on Mountain Road, within walking distance of half a dozen other wineries, including Rosewood, Fielding, Angel’s Gate and the soon to open Mike Weir dining room on the previous site of East Dell’s The View.
Gazing out from the tasting room to the snow streaming across the windswept vineyard, ’m reminded of an Arctic blizzard. We activate our “little hottie” hand warmers and head to the washrooms to install additional clothing layers.
Adrienne and Katie introduce themselves as our guides, and tell us to pick up our wine glasses, with our first tasting, the 2012 Winemaker’s Riesling, and then outside to put on snowshoes. This proves to be a simple task, clearly one designed for people who are wearing gloves. I also manage to taste the Riesling without removing my gloves.
Adrienne and Katie provide a quick lesson in walking in snowshoes and it’s off into the vineyard to our first tasting. They have the wine in handy wine-carrying backpacks and serve the 2011 Small Lot Steel Post Riesling at what is likely the ideal cool temperature to appreciate its floral notes. I’m enjoying the experience, but am finding it hard to concentrate on the wine.
As we walk, we’ve been striking up conversations with the other 20 or so participants in today’s hike. Although we’re mostly from the Toronto area, some have come from as far away as Ottawa.
At our next stop we sample the 2011 Small Lot Chardonnay. Then around the bend and into the wind for our final stop, the 2008 Small Lot Merlot.
Whether it’s the wine, the convivial group that we’ve quickly become or just the realization that snowshoeing is just the right kind of winter activity to keep you warn – it’s very pleasant as we sample the Merlot.
We’re now at the top of the crest in the back corner of the vineyard, overlooking the property and out onto Lake Ontario. Katie says if it wasn’t so snowy, we’d be able to see Toronto’s skyline from here.
It’s an easy downhill back to the tasting room, but now that we’re warmed up, we decide to take the long way back – retracing our steps in reverse.
By the time we join up with the rest of the group back at the tasting room, soup (clam chowder or kale and black bean) accompanied with the 2009 Small Lot Pinot Noir is served.
As we sip our soup we discuss our impressions and preferences for the afternoon’s samples. We thank Adrienne and Katie for their expert guidance and a most delightful and thoroughly Canadian experience.
Before we leave, we take a few minutes to compare notes on other wineries in the area to visit. Our next stop: Kew Vineyards.