People



Harald Thiel

Vigneron / Proprietor

Since he was a young man Harald has had the dream of owning a premium quality artisanal winery. In 2003, after a successful business career in the audiovisual industry, he and his family founded Hidden Bench Estate Winery with the goal of producing premium quality estate grown wines, which Canadians could serve with pride side by side with the best wines in the world. As a hands-on fully engaged owner he is actively involved in the day to day operations of the winery from vineyard to bottle and provides the winery its strategic direction and focus. A passionate foodie and wine consumer, he is also one of the founders of the Upper Canada Cheese Company and the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Festival. A strong believer in giving back, he sits on a number of not–for–profit boards, is the current Chair of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and has spearheaded a number of local environmental causes to protect the Beamsville Bench area. In his spare time Harald loves to read, cook, fly fish and ski.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 1970 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Butterflied Leg of Lamb grilled over vines
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Steamed Canadian Lobster with clarified butter
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Alsace Tarte/ Flammkuchen or Atlantic Oysters
Favourite HB wine: Love them all equally but differently!!!




Alex Baines

Winemaker

Alex joined our team as Assistant Winemaker in January 2017 after completing the Winemaking and Viticulture program at Niagara College and was promoted to Winemaker in March 2022. Originally from Finchingfield in Essex County, England he has 10 vintages of experience at premium producers in California, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. The small quality focused team at HB and the multifaceted responsibilities is what originally attracted Alex to join our small winery team. Alex has a keen interest in Organic and Biodynamic viniculture and above all the attention to detail required to craft exceptional low- intervention wines. When not in the cellar Alex enjoys being active hiking the Bench or playing soccer a couple of times a week year round.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 2010 Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Duck Confit Leg, Seared Duck Breast with Red Cabbage
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Roast Chicken with roasted potato and seasonal veggies
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Blue Cheese and Pear Wood Fired Pizza
Favourite HB Wine: Felseck Pinot Noir




Joel Williams

Vineyard Manager

Originally from New Brunswick, Joel’s love of quality focused organic agriculture and great wine has led him to his current role at Hidden Bench. Quality driven with an acute attention to detail, Joel leads a dedicated team of 12 in the maintenance and continual improvement of HB’s 32 hectares of certified organic vineyards. A CAPS certified sommelier, Joel’s understanding of the direct link between precision organic viticulture, the winemaking process and the final product makes him a vital component of the HB viniculture team. Prior to joining HB Joel attended St Thomas University in New Brunswick and acquired valuable experience working with a couple of the top Niagara producers.  When he is not working, Joel loves to cook, enjoy great wine and forage in the natural surroundings of the Beamsville Bench with his wife, Jen and their son, Sawyer

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha Wine: 1996 Frei Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Braised Rabbit with Morels
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Seared Scallops with butternut squash purée
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Charcuterie
Favourite HB Wine: Felseck Pinot Noir




Mike Boland

Operations Manager

An ongoing curiosity has driven Mike from graduate studies in classical political theory, philosophy, policy and systems analysis and history, to an in-depth and extensive study & practice of cool-climate wine making in Niagara. Mike joins our team with a WSET Advanced Certification and multiple harvests at some of Niagara’s best cool-climate producers. He chose to join the Hidden Bench team to apply and share his knowledge in providing a memorable experience to our visitors in the tasting room, as well as providing logistical support to our licensee and distribution channels. In his spare time, he actively participates in Pug dog rescue, gardening all manner of heirloom fruits and vegetables, scouring the dining & drinking landscapes of Hamilton & Buffalo, drinking bourbon and good wine, and visiting, reading about, eating and cooking, all manner of Southern fare.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 1991 Chateau d’Yquem
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Hoppin John with Carolina Gold Rice & Sea Island Red Pea Gravy
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Campfire Roasted Marshmallows
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Scallop Ceviche & Corn Tortilla Chips with Queso Fresco
Favourite HB wine: Nuit Blanche




Matt Finn

Retail and Direct to Consumer Manager

After more than a decade of experience in the Niagara wine industry, Matt re-joined our team in 2022 as our Retail and DTC Manager. After beginning his career at Hidden Bench in 2010 and spending 4 years at the winery, he became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2016 while continuing to work at premium wineries, independent restaurants, and wine import agencies. The team-based environment based on collaboration and cooperation to consistently craft world class wines brought Matt back to Hidden Bench. When not tasting, reading, or learning about wine, Matt can be found in his kitchen testing new recipes or hiking around Niagara with his partner and 2 dogs.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 2006 J-F Mugnier Nuits-Saints-Georges 1er Cru ‘Clos de la Marechale’ Monopole
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Pork Carnitas tacos
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Seared scallops with fresh corn, chorizo and shiitakes
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Dan Dan noodles
Favourite HB Wine: Tête de Cuvée Chardonnay




Cody German

Wine Club & Subscription Coordinator

From his first job as a hotel front desk clerk at age 16, Cody has always been immersed in the world of hospitality. Cody joined our team in early 2022 as the Wine Club and Subscription Coordinator and brings a wealth of customer service experience to the front of house team. Completing his WSET Level 2 confirmed his passion for not only the great wines of the world, but the people that create them and the experiences they can facilitate. When not geeking out on all things food and wine, he plays rec hockey and enjoys live music.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 2014 Blackswift Vineyards “The Long Road” Syrah
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Turkey dinner with all the fixings
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Pan-roasted white fish
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Sweet & spicy Thai chicken with peppered asparagus
Favourite HB Wine: Rosomel Pinot Noir




Jessica Jones

Retail Associate

Jessica joined the Hidden Bench front of house team in 2021 after moving to Beamsville. A former professional figure skater who performed internationally, she traded in her skates to train as a baker and pastry chef prior to pursuing her passion for wine with Hidden Bench. Pursuing further wine education, Jessica has completed her WSET Level 2 Certificate and is an integral part of our retail and hospitality team. In her spare time she enjoys her baking (as do we!), DIY projects around the house, and spending quality time with her husband and three beautiful cats.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 2015 Vinarija Kovačević Edicija S Edition Chardonnay
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Duck confit
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Cheese ravioli in sage-butter sauce
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Raclette
Favourite HB Wine: Malbec




Andrew Cramer

Cellarhand

Originally from Alberta, Andrew became interested in wine while studying history at the University of Calgary. After completing his WSET Level 3 Certificate, he shifted his focus to production and moved to Niagara in 2016 to attend the Winemaking and Viticulture program at Niagara College. After graduation, he worked for producers across Canada including 4 vintages in Niagara. He was drawn to Hidden Bench because of the focus on quality from vineyard to bottle, and to expand his knowledge of organic and sustainable winegrowing. Outside of work, Andrew likes to travel, ski, cycle, and cook.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 2009 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Beef Bourguignon
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Classic spatchcock chicken with vegetables
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Roasted pork loin with apples
Favourite HB Wine: Rosomel Pinot Noir




Bryce Morgan

Vineyard Assistant

Born and raised in Niagara, Bryce has always had a keen interest in wine. He joined the Hidden Bench team for vintage in 2020 while finishing the Winery & Viticulture Technician program at Niagara College. After graduating in 2021, he joined us full time to assist our vineyard team with all viticultural and farming practices on the estate. His passion for sustainability and ongoing curiosity for every aspect of precision winegrowing make every day at Hidden Bench unique and exciting. When not working in the vineyards, Bryce can be found at the curling club, playing soccer, or indulging in local food and drink.

Vital Wine Stats:

Aha! Wine: 2015 Delas Freres Hermitage ‘Domaine des Tourettes’
Favourite Pinot Noir Pairing: Flank steak with mushroom sauce and charred vegetables
Favourite Chardonnay Pairing: Seared Lake Erie Perch
Favourite Riesling Pairing: Grilled pork with nuoc cham over vermicelli
Favourite HB Wine: Locust Lane Pinot Noir