With an elevation ranging from 145 to 105 metres above sea level, this appellation has a relatively high elevation and its bluffs shelter the area from the strong, cool south-westerly winds that prevail in the spring. Vineyards are situated on the long north-facing slopes, which are crossed by several shallow streams. These streams – many seasonal with flooding in early spring and dry beds by late summer – offer good drainage of the ground water issuing from the base of the escarpment, promoting healthy vine growth throughout the growing season.
Sheltered by the Niagara Escarpment, and farther inland from the warm lake waters, vineyards on the Bench tend to be slightly cooler during the late season when grapes are ripening. Combined with the early spring warming, this creates a unique growing season and promises mature, refined wines.
The soils of this appellation, spread over a red sandstone bedrock, are deep, rich clays. The mostly silty clays and clay loam tend to hold moisture and drain slowly. Snow melt and spring rain saturates the soil early in the season and provides a reliable source of water that is held in the sub-soils and nourishes the vines throughout the season.
With shelter from the Escarpment and good cold air drainage down its slopes, this area experiences early warming in the spring, and enjoys a relatively long growing season. Frequent high pressure systems and clear and sunny weather, aided by steady air circulation during the growing season maintain moderate temperatures well into September and the start of the grape harvest. Combined with a generous amount of precipitation, this appellation produces healthy vine growth and fruit with well developed character.
WIN gratefully acknowledges VQA Ontario as the source for the Terroir backgrounds provided on www.vineandtreefruitinnovations.com
VQA Ontario (2009)