Benchmark wins 2015 Licensee of the Year Award

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Adam McInnis, Vice President and Branch Manager, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls RBC Dominion Securities Inc., with Benchmark Restaurant’s manager of dining operations Sarah Scott (middle), and chef manager Alex White (right)) as they won VQA Licensee Award 2015, on Sept. 18 at  Montebello Park, St. Catharines.

It’s a vintage year for Benchmark Restaurant.

The College’s teaching restaurant, located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus within the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, has been announced the winner of a 2015 Licensee of the Year Award at the Niagara Wine Festival. The award was presented to CFWI staff on Sept. 18 as part of the festival’s annual RBC Ontario Awards which honour supporters of Ontario’s grape and wine industry.

“The Niagara Wine Festival and RBC are pleased to honour Niagara licensees who support the sale of Ontario VQA wines and present an outstanding Ontario VQA wine list at their property,” said Kimberly Hundertmark, executive director, Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.

“An important role of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute is to support our VQA winemakers throughout our region,” said CFWI dean Craig Youdale. “This award for Benchmark shows our focus on top quality VQA wines and providing a beautiful venue to showcase these amazing products from our regional winemakers.”

Benchmark offers a 100% VQA wine list showcasing 45 available wines from 30 Niagara wineries, as well as from the Niagara College Teaching Winery. Different wineries are featured each season, available by the taster or by the glass, as well as an alumni selection showcasing the successes of graduates of the college’s wine programs.

The restaurant showcases food, wine and beer created, prepared and presented by CFWI students. Its rotating menu is local and seasonal –including college-grown, regional and provincial bounties.  Students undergo monthly training with tours and tastings from the College’s on-site teaching winery, and visits to local wineries in Niagara, all under the tutelage of the College’s wine professors and on-site sommeliers.

In December 2014, Benchmark was honoured with a prestigious Golden Plate Award by members of Les Clefs d’Or Niagara. Members of the local hotel concierge association voted for the winner unanimously based on strict guidelines including cuisine, service, atmosphere, hotel guest feedback, and accommodation to concierge calling for reservations.