In July a friend and I set off on the Beamsville Bench Vineyard Trail but it was so hot, we only completed the “Lower Loop”. (See my July 20, 2013 blog post about it.)
So, a few weeks ago, on a glorious autumn weekend I set out to walk the “Upper Loop”, which isn’t a loop per se. According to the trail map, the upper portion includes Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery, The Organized Crime Winery, and Fielding Estates Winery.
I decided to start at the top, so I parked at Fielding Estates. It so happened that weekend was one of the Niagara Wine Festival weekends, so the place was hopping, which is always nice to see. Fielding sits high atop the crest of a hill and from the top looking down toward the vines I easily spotted the unmistakeable yellow diamond Vineyard Trail marker and I headed toward it.
Once I hit Locust Lane I couldn’t see any trail markers on The Organize Crime Winery’s property. So, rather than roaming through the rows of vines I decided to stick to the road. I figured if I didn’t see a trail sign, eventually I’d end up at Hidden Bench’s main driveway, which is what happened.
Hidden Bench was a beehive of activity, with about a half dozen folks sorting just picked grapes. It was fun watching them and knowing that the grapes were full of the summer sunshine and that before long the summer’s work would pay off in the form of the next vintage.
I popped into the tasting boutique to see what was going on and to find out where I went wrong on the Vineyard Trail. It turns out the reason I didn’t see any trail signs from Fielding Estates to The Organized Crime Winery was because they had been taken down. Apparently The Organized Crime Winery has decided to pull out from the trail, leaving a bit of a gap.
Since I had left the car at Fielding Estates, I asked at Hidden Bench if the trail continued back through their vineyard toward Fielding. I was told that it does, but because they were picking that day, they didn’t want visitors walking around back there. So, they directed me across a different (un-marked) part of their property and, though I was frustrated, I went the way I was told to.
I found it frustrating that none of the information about the trail indicates that they don’t want people on it at what seems like the best time of year – the autumn. Perhaps they’ll make that a bit clearer so that folks visiting can plan accordingly.