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Amanda Conkol

Amanda Conkol
Amanda Conkol and her husband Chris are the owners of Candlelight Winery in Garrettsville, Ohio. Amanda’s passion for wine is evident in her weekly column “Notes From The Vineyard”, but that’s not all Amanda is passionate about. She maintains a full schedule raising twin daughters, working a day job consulting as an IT Project Manager and is the Girl Troop Leader for her daughters’ troop. When time allows Amanda loves to travel (especially to Disney World) and go for runs throughout Nelson Township.

If your summer travel plans usually include visiting far away wineries but the economic downturn is stopping this year’s excursion, I hope this article can provide some great alternatives this year. There are 3 new trends that we are starting to see in the wine industry which are great alternatives to expensive summer trips.

Have you ever walked into a winery and said “wow – this would be so cool to work here”? Wineries around the world are benefitting from people who are looking at a “trial run” in the wine business. Volunteer vacations offer a great way for you to visit a winery, try some wines and help out with miscellaneous jobs at a discounted travel rate. Some of the larger wineries are offering free meals and a bed to sleep on if you book a 7 day trip. Depending on the winery, you can work 3 or 4 days and have either 3 or 4 days off to travel around the region.

If working at a winery isn’t your idea of a summer vacation but you still want to try some new wines, look around for a winery that is offering an online tasting. Wineries are starting to send out smaller bottles of wine to their clients to host an online wine tasting. The winery usually sets a date for the tasting to occur and you receive the bottles 1 or 2 days prior to the event. If you have a web cam for your computer, you can video into the tasting or just visit sites like facebook.com or twitter.com to post your comments about the wine.

Finally, if you are looking to get away, pick a local state or region and do a search for wineries in that state or region. Every one of the 50 states has at least one winery (yes, even Hawaii and Alaska have wineries) so you have some opportunities to visit some great places. Even if you can just get away for a weekend, check out the wineries webpage to see if they have a deal going with a local bed and breakfast. Ohio has a great program for this – simply check out www.OhioWines.org and under the Maps of Wineries section there is a listing for lodging options in that area.

Happy traveling!



Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

I know many of you are sick and tired of seeing the snow, the gray clouds and having to deal with the colder temperatures. But as I mentioned in last week’s column there are some sure signs that Spring is around the corner.

Need some fun events to bring you out of the winter doldrums? How about an Easter Egg Hunt for the adults? That’s right, an Easter Egg hunt for the adults (must be at least 21 years of age to join us)!!  The egg hunt will be held on Saturday, April 19th from 7:30 – 10pm and will be held outdoors rain or shine (dress appropriately)! Over 500 eggs will be hidden in the woods and lawn area so bring your own basket and flashlight to collect as many eggs as you can.

The event kicks off at 7:30 pm with local musician Steve Vanderink entertaining everyone with his great variety of songs! The egg hunt beginning promptly at 8:30pm. One grand prize egg will have a prize worth up to $100 with a second and third place egg worth up to $40 and $20 respectively. Plus, more than 100 eggs will contain prizes valued over $10! Nonrefundable tickets are $25 per person and reservations and prepayment required so be sure to call the winery today to join us for this great event!

Or want to express more of your artistic side? Then be sure to make reservations today for our first Wine & Art night! Local artist Carol Milani will be walking you through step by step instructions to paint a fantastic picture of Garrettsville. Tickets are $30 / person and a part of the proceeds will be donated to #Garrettsville Strong. Wine & Art night will be held on Friday, April 25th from 6-9pm. Reservations are required and seating is limited so be sure to book your spot today!

Also SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, May 31st from 1-10pm we will be hosting a Food Truck Rally and Music Benefit for #GarrettsvilleStrong! Five food trucks will be joining us along with 3 great music concerts will be taking over the winery for the day to raise money for the rebuilding effort on Main Street. Plus we’ll have over 15 arts and craft vendors set up to sell their fabulous products and have raffle prizes available. Keep reading this newsletter for more information or check out our webpage – www.candlelightwinery.com for the latest details.


Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

By now you probably have seen the Girl Scout Cookie booths at your favorite grocery stores, banks, malls and Wal-Marts so if you didn’t pre-order your cookies, make sure you pick them up while you are at the winery as cookie booth season is over!

As the proud sponsor of Girl Scout Troop 402 in Garrettsville, the winery has been converted into Girl Scout cookie headquarters for our troop to get their cookies to you. While the Girl Scouts did an amazing job of selling cookies, a few curious parents have asked what wine pairs well with the rest of the Girl Scout cookies after last week’s article? There are so many options with 8 great cookies this year, so here are the pairings for the remaining cookies.

Let’s start with my favorite Girl Scout Cookie – the Samoa. This delectable caramel, coconut and chocolate-covered cookie has so many flavors that pairing it with a particular wine is tough. However I had a bottle of Tawny Port and sampled it with the cookie. It was so unexpected. The nutty flavors of the Port really brought out the caramel and coconut of the cookie without losing the cookie flavor.

Next is the Trefoil cookie. This shortbread cookie could be paired with almost any wine since it is so light. However I found that an oaked Chardonnay paired quite well with this cookie. The buttery overtones in the Chardonnay matched quite well with the buttery taste of the Trefoil.

The newest cookie was introduced a couple of years ago and seems to be picking up in sales. The Thank U Berry Munch has mix of cranberry and white fudge chips. My initial thought was to pair this with our Cranberry wine but I found that I liked the cookie much better with our Iced Wine which is a much sweeter and almost syrupy wine. The combination of the cranberries and white fudge chips made the wine perfect for dessert.

Finally, for this week I paired this year’s new cookie, Savannah Smiles, with our Chambourcin. This lemon crispy cookie covered in powered sugar can be difficult to pair since lemon is such an overpowering flavor. But the smooth finish of the Chambourcin reduced the bite from the lemon flavor and made this a great pair. The Savannah Smiles cookie is the signature cookie representing the Girl Scouts 100th anniversary is a great way to end our cookie tasting this year.

Not a fan of cookies — or sticking to your New Year’s Resolution? You can still support the Girl Scout Troops – we have challenged our troop to raise enough money to send 400 boxes of cookies to the troops overseas! Stop by the winery to help this great cause!


Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

Like many of you, our family and employees are saddened by the loss our town suffered this past weekend. We have grown to know many of the business owners and their families over the years and are working with the fundraising groups in Garrettsville to host a number of events. More details will be posted to our website as well as the Chamber of Commerce website as the details are finalized. As many of you know Candlelight Winery is also heavily involved in Girl Scouts and are working with our local troops to get some additional fundraisers going as well. While this is a sad time for many, I know how strong Garrettsville is and will quickly shine again. Until then I hope this article starts to bring back a sense of normalcy and humor to you.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get at the winery is “Can you taste the difference between an expensive and inexpensive wine?” This is always a tough question to answer but usually I can tell the difference between the two wines. However there are some inexpensive wines that have really surprised me.

I have had my share of really expensive (over $50) bottles of wine that were terrible and I have had my share of inexpensive (under $8) bottles of wine that were amazing. Regardless of the price range, a lot has to do with how the wine is stored and handled before you drink it. Assuming that the bottles are both stored in the right temperatures and on their side you may be surprised how comparable the two wines are.

Another factor to look at is the type of winery the wine comes from. Some of the smaller boutique wineries may have more expensive wines because they might have smaller quantities of that wine or the wines may have been aged longer than the others. However some of the larger wineries will also offer more expensive wines based on the amount of work that goes into the grape growing process, thus making the quality of the wine much greater.

One of my favorite deals is when an expensive wine goes on sale. You do have to watch though because sometimes it means the wine is starting to go bad, however most of the time, wineries will have a sale because the next vintage is about to be released. If you are lucky, you can even buy an older vintage at a lower price and the newer vintage at its regular price so you can compare it.

Regardless of the price, you may be surprised on how good an inexpensive wine tastes. I recommend setting aside a wine budget and every once in a while try the more expensive bottle of wine.



Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

If you are an avid reader of this column, you know that I love getting together with friends and pairing different foods and wines together. We’ve paired Halloween candy, BBQ sauces, pizzas, Girl Scout cookies and desserts. This past weekend we had a fantastic time sitting with Chef Gary from The Rolling Pig to pair wines with his gourmet dips.  

As the cold stabilization stage starts to wind down this year, I had the chance to sample some of the new wines we are going to release this year. Sampling some of the wines before they are finished is one of my favorite jobs around the winery. This sort of sampling, called barrel sampling, can really give you a great idea on how the wine is going to finish.

One thing I have learned over the years is that wine tastes the best when shared with friends with some friendly competition. On any given Sunday night you can find us hanging out with the owners of Sharon James Cellars (11303 Kinsman Road, Novelty, Ohio – www.sharonjamescellars.com) enjoying some wine and playing a variety of board games.
Between Apples to Apples, 5 Second Rule to War, and even Go Fish, to Scrabble or Monopoly, we almost always have some type of board game going. The topics we cover in conversation, the bets we place on the next move and the laughs we have from each game make it memorable each week.

So as we were talking one night we thought why not bring this type of friendly competition to the winery. So, think your strategy is best for winning Connect Four? Or maybe your drawing skills will have you crushing the competition in Pictionary? Do you have the lucky hand at rolling Yatzee??

Then we have a fantastic event for you! Join us at Candlelight Winery for our first Game Night on Saturday, March 8th from 7-10pm! You and a team member will play a round of 3 games against other teams throughout the night. The teams with the highest scores at the end will win some fantastic prizes.

There is no charge to play but please make a reservation by calling the winery or stopping by so we can put the brackets together.

Thankfully, this month is flying by! Sure we made it through Groundhogs Day, Valentine’s Day, some more rough Cleveland winter days but when I looked at the calendar today I realized that I almost missed my favorite thing about February – Open That Bottle Night (OTBN).

While many of us are still hoping to get through the cold Cleveland weather, the vineyards around northeast Ohio have another focus – the months of warmer temperatures that will be here soon. (Yes, I promise warmer weather will be here at some point…)

The Super Bowl is over and now my ultimate favorite sporting event is about to begin! I love watching the Olympics – especially the Winter Olympics. Sure, there are the normal favorites of skiing, ice skating and hockey. But I really like watching some of the other sports,  my favorite Olympic sport is Curling. Most people find it quite dull but I am just amazed on the teamwork, the precision, the focus and how the smallest mistake can change the game. 

January is always a great month for us at the winery. Since it is typically our quietest month of the year we get to take some time to prepare for the rest of the year. In past years we have worked on the addition at the winery, focused on new wine labels and created a new look to our website. 2014 is definitely not any different than past years. We’ve had a lot of time to focus on scheduling over 15 events at the winery this year and I can’t wait to tell you about them in future columns. However for this week’s column I wanted to focus on my favorite part about January at the winery – getting ready to release new wines.

How often do you tell your children to try something new? Whether it be a new sport, a new food or a new game – they should try it because they just might like it! Growing up, I heard that over and over again from my parents. As much as I hated hearing it back then, they made an excellent point.

So how many of you have tried a new wine recently? How many of you always get one kind of wine any time you order wine? Well, I really don’t want to sound like my mother, but you really should try something new at least once in a while. If you like sweet wines, then I suggest trying the next drier wine on a wine list once in a while.

The reason is, once you start drinking wine, your taste buds start to change, so as you continue to drink drier wines your taste buds start to adapt to liking drier wines. Now, granted, you are not going to instantly go from drinking a sweet wine like White Zinfandel to a dry wine like a Chardonnay but as you progress through your wine drinking stages you will eventually like the drier wines. However, until you try something different, you just never know what is out there.

Now for all you who already like the dry wines, I have the same advice for you! Every once in a while you should try a sweeter wine as well. Not only does this allow you to appreciate some other wines but it does give your taste buds something new to try. If you’ve been reading my articles you know that I would take a dry red wine any day. But recently I tried a Pinot Gris which was listed as a semi-sweet white wine. I am not a fan of Pinot Gris to begin with so it did take some prompting from my friends to try it but once we had it I was certainly amazed by how much flavor there was in this wine.

So as much as I don’t want to nag, your parents were right – you should try something new!

By now you probably have had your share of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries and desserts! But if your family is like mine, you also have enough leftovers from dinner to have a second Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you are serving turkey sandwiches, turkey chili, turkey soup, turkey frittatas or just plain turkey there are so many ways you can incorporate any leftover wine.

If you served a sparkling wine during your get together and have some left you only have about a day until the wine will go flat. So as you make turkey and egg sandwiches or turkey frittatas, be sure to make yourself a nice mimosa. Simply pour ½ glass of orange juice and ¼ glass of your sparkling wine into a glass and enjoy!

Or if you had some red wine left over, this is a great way to spice up a turkey chili dish. I usually allow 2 cups of red wine to simmer on the stove as I add pieces of turkey to the pan to be marinated in the wine. Let it sit for about 10 minutes then start adding your beans, vegetables, seasonings and a little water to the pan. If you are using a leftover Syrah, your turkey will have a slight ground pepper taste to it.

I usually have a lot of white wine leftover at our house and always have a problem pairing it with leftovers from dinner. Unless I am just drinking a glass with a turkey sandwich, the white wine usually sent home with family for them to enjoy the next day. However, last year I came across a recipe that has been a great addition to my leftover recipe book. I have started making a turkey stew bake:

Heat oven to 350°. Add 1 cup of white wine to the pan. Place leftover turkey and vegetables in pan. Cover with leftover mashed potatos. Bake uncovered at 350° for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese on top of potatoes, Garnish with parsley.


Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

It’s hard to believe that six years ago we put together a small animated light show for families to enjoy during the summer. With only 10,000 lights synchronized to music it was something that left an impression on anyone who saw the show. Then the years continued and the Summer Light Show grew to over 70,000 lights this past year. More songs and more features were added but as the summer came to an end it was hard for us to see the light show come to an end.

For those of you that have followed my articles for the past six years you may already know that I love dry red wine and anything chocolate! So anytime I get the opportunity to enjoy the two I jump on it!

But this time I am going to share my excitement with you and invite you to the winery to join me for a dessert and wine pairing on Saturday, December 7th from 7:30 – 9:30pm. We are working with Presti’s Bakery located in Little Italy to serve a few of their amazing desserts with a selection of our wines.

We have carefully researched (ate way too many of their treats) and have finally selected this amazing pairing: Cassata Cake and Riesling, Tiramisu and Pirate Syrah, Blueberry Cheesecake and Blue Spark and we’ll finish the night with a selection of Canolis and Illumination. Granted, the menu may change if I keep sampling but I promise this is one event you will not be disappointed in!

Plus, sit back for the fantastic sounds of Denny & McKay at 7:30! This great duo will be playing your favorite hits from the Beatles, Chicago, Elton John and maybe even a few holiday tunes! Tickets for the dessert pairing are only $11.99 person (not including tax or gratuity). Reservations and pre-payment is required! Call the winery today to book your reservation – 330.527.4118.

Tickets are limited so don’t miss out on this awesome experience. We will be open to the public so even if you’re not in the mood for dessert – come on out for a great night of live music and wine!


Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

My kids recently had to come up with a list of what makes this season feel like Fall. It was fun to think of this – leaves changing, cooler nights, watching football games, picking apples, carving pumpkins and, of course, going to as many clambakes that we can! We started to talk about hosting a clambake at the winery but wanted to do something unique and start our own tradition.

I love art festivals! I love walking around looking at some of the most interesting sculptures, still life drawing and “recycled” art. The last theme is one of my favorites. I will never understand how someone can take what I would consider garbage (old milk jugs, tires and plastic bags) and turn it into a work of art.

So imagine my excitement when we received a call to pour our wine at the Art in the Village – The Fall Art Fair at Legacy Village in Beachwood. We’ll be there on Saturday,September 21 and Sunday, September 22 to pour some of our fantastic wines while you browse through a great variety of artists.

Don’t miss an eclectic mix of the nation’s most talented artists who will collectively display millions of dollars in artwork. The artists, juried by an independent panel of expert judges, are hand selected based on quality and diversity.

Show Hours are Saturday, September 21 – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, September 22 – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. but we’ll start pouring at 12pm each day. Plus enjoy live music, food vendors and more throughout the course of the weekend!

On Saturday, Cletus Black Revue (a Rock/Blues band) will be playing from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., followed by The Champagnes (60’s Rockabilly Blues) playing from 3-6 p.m. and finally one of my favorite groups, Cats on Holiday (Cajun/Blues) will wrap up the night from 7-10 p.m. Or join us on Sunday as Red Light Roxy (Jazz/Blues) starts the day from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Big Ship (Acoustic Funk) end the festival from 2-5 p.m.

Admission and parking are free and open to the public. Rain or shine! For more information, call 216.382.3871 or visit www.legacy-village.com. Be sure to stop by and say hi while you’re out enjoying the show!


Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

If you ever walked into a wine bar or wine shop you may notice a variety of bottle shapes and sizes. Some bottles may even be in shapes such as a fish or a trombone, some bottles are made so they intertwine and some bottles are made to look like they are leaning. No matter what the shape or size is, there is usually an interesting characteristic with the bottle.

The season of wine festivals is upon us and people all over the greater Cleveland area are celebrating. But during a recent festival, some new wine drinkers had some great questions that I have always taken for granted. So after thinking about their question, I figured of few of you may have similar questions.

I have attended so many wine and cheese parties since opening the winery that it has been very difficult to keep track of which cheeses I have tried and which wine I have tried. When I first started to attend these parties I would try to remember which wines and which cheeses I really liked so I could get them in the store. But unfortunately by the time I got home I had forgotten the name or label.
Pretty soon I started to keep a small notebook in my purse and would write down the wine or cheese variety as soon as I tried it. Of course my friends snickered at my notebook when I first started carrying it around but now they usually call me the day after a party asking what kind of wine we drank or where could they buy the cheese that was served.
So during a recent wine and cheese pairing someone asked me for my top three cheese recommendations and which Candlelight wines I would pair with them. After looking through all of my notes, here are my top three recommendations.
My third place cheese is Brie. I love the creamy texture of Brie and how versatile it can be. Since Brie can be served plain on crackers, placed on top of apple slices or even be used as a cracker dip there are so many ways to pair almost any wine with this cheese. However, one of my favorite combinations is to wrap a wheel of Brie in a puff pastry, top with honey and walnuts and bake it until the pastry is golden brown. I’ve tasted this combination with both our red and white wines and found that the Candlelight Red is a great compliment to this wine.
For second place, slices of Smoked Gouda rise to the top of my list. I love the smoky flavor of this cheese and how thick the texture is. While there are many recipes that call for a Smoked Gouda I am old fashioned when it comes to Smoked Gouda. Simply pairing a few slices of the Gouda with an oaked Chardonnay really make my day. If I am really hungry I will make a grilled ham and gouda sandwich and enjoy that with my wine, otherwise a few slices will do.
Finally, my favorite cheese is one that we feature quite often at the winery – Adams Reserve Sharp Cheddar. This aged cheddar is amazing. While many people get scared by the word “sharp” it is quite smooth for a cheddar cheese. We have made many recipes with this cheese so it is difficult to comment on just one recipe to feature, however, we have all agreed at the winery that this pairs the best with our Sangiovese wine. The combination of a dry red wine and the “sharpness” of the cheese really tantalizes your taste buds.
Next time you are shopping at your local grocery store, be sure to stop in the cheese section and pick up one of these cheeses. See what combinations work best for you!

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

I am amazed at  how quickly time flies when you’re having fun! So I am more amazed on how much fun we have had in the past 9 years! From the day we opened our doors on August 13, 2004,  every moment of having the winery has been exciting. Sure – some of those moment have been challenging (especially the moments Mother Nature has thrown at us), but nevertheless each moment has gotten us to where we are today.
As we have in years past, we will celebrate the 9th anniversary on Saturday, August 10th with a huge benefit for Ohio Pug Rescue. For those of you that do not know the story, our pug Mynde, passed away suddenly on the winery’s first anniversary. Shortly after her passing, our other pug Mork, needed a companion so we reached out to Ohio Pug Rescue and adopted two more pugs, Ellie and Truman. Every year since Mynde’s passing, we have celebrated with a benefit to Ohio Pug Rescue.
We will open the winery to all friendly dogs and their owners to enjoy wine (especially our Pink Pug wine and Pink Pug Sangria), live music by local favorite Steve Vanderink, food by two great food trucks – Stone Pelican Rolling Café and The Rolling Pig, shop over 15 vendors, enter to win some great raffle prizes and so much more! We will have everything set up outside by our pond so bring some lawn chairs or a blanket to enjoy the day with us.
The day is dedicated to all dogs (pugs especially!) with music, food, Pug Wine and of course plenty of dogs. So if you have a special dog, plan on joining us on August 10th from 2pm – 10pm. All friendly dogs are welcome!

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

What a great summer this has been! Most of the days have been hot and most of the nights have been cool, I couldn’t ask for a better summer so far! What has been making this summer great though is all of the time I have been able to spend with friends on the weekends. We’ve had planned parties, we’ve had parties that people just stopped over and we’ve had a few parties that we crashed.
We almost always have wine with us on each occasion which usually presents the challenge of what to bring when I may not know the menu. So I came up with some quick tips to help you bring the right wine to your next event.
I love sparkling wine or champagne. To me it’s a fun drink. Not only is the texture of sparkling wine fun but just the thought of drinking something bubbly gets people in a good mood. You don’t need to be celebrating anything special to have a sparkling wine, however, too many people save it for a special occasion. I usually bring a Brut champagne with me since it is neutral in flavors and can pair well with anything from appetizers to desserts.
Of course I have to bring a dry red wine with me. My trick here is to bring something you like, not something you think the host would like. Too many times I have gone to a gathering where there is usually sweet wine on the tables because that is what the host drank. Sure, it’s nice to bring something for the host but I try to get my friends to try something different and expand their horizons. I make sure that the bottle is opened while I am there so the host doesn’t feel the need to save it for another occasion and drink something that they may not like.
Finally, depending on the size of the gathering I will bring in a dry Riesling. A crisp Riesling can easily be paired with a variety of dishes without overpowering the meal. I love to add a slice of strawberry from the fruit salad to the glass to enjoy with dessert. It’s a great glass of wine for sitting back and spending time with friends and family.

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

It’s funny to take a few minutes to read past articles of mine. For example, I found the original article from 2008 when I first announced the Candlelight Cove Light Show. I boasted that with about 10,000 lights, we had synchronized them to a couple of songs and had a great family friendly event for everyone on Friday nights. The 2009 article had more promise for the show as we added some new features, doubled the amount of lights to 20,000 lights and added some new colored lights to the show. 2010 was an exciting year as we added a 15 foot mega tree that alone had 10,000 lights and the show grew to 40,000 lights. Finally last year we announced the addition of LED lights and 60,000 lights total.
So this year when my husband asked if we were in over our heads with lights I had to laugh as I started to write this article. In our 5th year of light shows we have completely switched from the standard “Christmas Lights” to 70,000 LED lights! The color opportunities are endless now and the effects we can create just from the lights are amazing. Similar to the Fountain Show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Candlelight Cove Light Show has been programmed to a series of patriotic songs for your enjoyment.
This year’s light show will officially kick off on Friday, July 12th at dusk (for those of you who were lucky enough to see the sneak peek, come on out to check out the full show!). Nestled between the hillside and the winery, Candlelight Cove will be THE place to relax outside and enjoy the night sky in Garrettsville. Imagine as dusk settles around Garrettsville, you are sitting back and relaxing with your favorite wine from the winery as you watch the lights dance around the pond and entryway.
On Fridays we are family-friendly (kids must be supervised) and we offer a kids food menu of chicken nuggets, an ice cream sundae bar, cornhole, glow sticks, Frisbees and more to play with before the show starts. On Saturdays we gear the evening towards the adults; live music starts every Saturday at 7:30 and at least once a month gourmet food truck, The Rolling Pig, will be parked outside serving dinner!
So join us on every Friday and Saturday at dusk for this summer’s light show! Feel free to bring your families, friends and neighbors and a picnic basket to enjoy while you watch the show (just leave the drinks to us).

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

We are finally into summer and with July 4th rapidly approaching many people are looking for something different to serve at their holiday picnics. They love wine but after a busy (and extremely hot) summer, sometimes wine just doesn’t cut it. What does one do in an extreme case like this??? Turn to Sangria of course.
Sangria, or wine punch, is a great way to entertain large groups or just cool off by the pool. All you need is a punch bowl, some wine, some fruit, a carbonated drink and another liqueur. Sangria is sold in bottles today but homemade Sangria tends to be a lot more exciting and you have the option to add/subtract as much wine as you want. Also, my favorite part of making Sangria is that you can make the usual version with red wine or you can experiment with white wine (which is called Sangria Blanca). If you did a search on Sangria recipes, you would be overwhelmed with responses. This is why I like Sangria, there is no “one” recipe so you get to make your own as you go.
For those of you that are need a quick easy recipe, let me give you a couple here.

It’s no secret that the quality of wine is really up to Mother Nature every year so it’s no surprise how many times I have been asked how the grapes are doing this year. In past years we were spoiled with hot temperatures and little rain but unfortunately last year and this year we are seeing quite the opposite weather patterns. The late frosts, the cooler temperatures, an increase in rain fall and the amount of wind we are receiving in each storm has caused some challenges for this year’s production.

Grapes grow the best when they are slightly stressed searching for water and cooler temperatures. The amount of sunlight allows the grapes to produce higher levels of sugar in the grape clusters. Given the limited amount of sunlight and the rain and high humidity this is causing a greater chance for disease in the grapevines.  We combat this problem with a spray program that has been more frequent than last year due to current conditions.

While I do not mind the cooler temperatures, it starts to make the perfect combination for the bugs to come out and weeds to grow around the base of the vines.  We’ve already sprayed for ants who like to eat the baby that are currently growing on the vines. The next pest we expect to see are the Japanese beetles who love to eat grape leaves.  We are also currently spraying for diseases that love high humidity, such as powdery mildew.  Also a threat are the Asian lady beetles (a form of the ladybug), but they will not make an appearance till later in the year. All of this varies depending on the variety of grapes planted and their level of susceptibility to the diseases.

Since we are still recovering from the late frost and as we continue to spray for diseases, bugs and weeds, we are monitoring the vineyard to maintain great quality grapes and look forward to find out what future harvests will bring us

2013 is certainly flying by! I’m not sure if it’s Spring, Summer or Fall any more so it’s hard to believe it’s already June! The good news is the official start to summer is right around the corner – and that means one thing to me! The Annual Summer Solstice, Wine, Art and Music Festival is almost here!

As I mentioned last week, what a month May has been; warm temperature, cool temperatures, hot days and some really cold nights. After I mentioned that we lost most of our vines to the frost some of you noticed that are few vines looked like they were coming back. We had a glimmer of hope that we might get something from the vines… but Mother Nature took control. The beginning of May showed a lot of promise for a great crop season for us. The warmer temperatures early in the month allowed us to be out in the vineyard pruning, weeding and cleaning up from the winter. 

About a year ago I wrote an article about how Mother Nature gave us a run for our money by May. And while this year’s winter was more of your typical Cleveland winter and spring, we sure have had a number of changes in the weather. While the weather held out for bud break in late April and early May, the vineyard did not fare well in the frost we had a couple of weeks ago. So as we clean up from the frost damage and look forward to next year, I thought I would share some ways to avoid damage in the future.

If you travel to some of the larger wineries you will see that they might have wind machines that are used to keep the vineyards warmer and therefore prevent a frost. Other wineries might use a temperature sensitive sprinkler which will turn on and off when the temperature drops below 34 degrees.

Unfortunately, many preventative options come with a large price tag which can be a challenge for small vineyard owners. Some of our winery guests have suggested that we follow the “romantic” frost protection options in movies like “A Walk in the Clouds” and have bonfires throughout the vineyards to keep them warm. While I don’t mind a good bonfire, the risk of having our vineyard catch on fire is more than I am willing to take.

So what does a small vineyard owner do when the threat of frost is announced? Depending on the size of your vineyard you can always cover the vines to keep the warmth in. Similar to covering your plants or flowers during a frost, large tarps can be used to cover the vines. Another way is to coat your vineyard with a layer of ice. I am not a chemist so I do not understand the technical side of why this works, but essentially as the water freezes it releases latent heat. Someone once explained it to me this way: As ice melts, energy must be added to the ice (usually in the form of heat). So when you reverse the process, the water must release that energy. As the water freezes on the vines, that release of energy gets trapped between on the vines and forms a layer to protect the vines.

If you are going to freeze your vines, you will need to continually spray your vines until there is a layer of ice on them. Just be sure your hoses and sprayers can reach all areas of your vineyard. Once the vines are frozen you can get some rest but then be sure to be back out spraying the vines in the morning before the sun comes up so you can help the vines adjust back to the current temperatures.


Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

If you’ve been reading my column you know that I am big fan of dry red wines. I especially enjoy a red wine that has been sitting in an oak barrel for a while. The oak gives the wine so much more body than if the wine was sitting in a stainless steel tank. A lot of our guests at the winery have asked me though “why are oak barrels toasted”? Well that made me think… I’ve always taken toasted oak barrels for granted and never considered why they were toasted. So after much research (and of course wine tasting), here are my findings… 

I am always on the lookout for a unique wine, unique label, unique bottle or unique wine accessory. So last week we had the opportunity to pour our wine at WineStyles in Howland. They have a monthly wine tasting where you can sample 5 sweet wines or 5 dry wines while shopping some great vendors. It’s a great wine shop filled with an unbelievable number of wines.

But what I really liked about the sampling was some of the unique wines they featured. My favorite that night was a white Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is usually served as a dry red wine or now that summer is almost here you can find some great Pinot Noir rosés. Unlike a White Zinfandel or White Merlot (both are actually blush in color) this White Pinot Noir is truly a white wine.

So when they poured Graffi’s White Pinot Noir I was so excited to try this wine. WineStyles had listed it as “Crisp” and I was shocked to taste how refreshing this wine was. It had an amazing green apple flavor and a smooth finish which is the complete opposite to a regular pinot noir. For a usually red wine I couldn’t believe how clear this wine turned out and how flavorful is was.

Now many of you might be wondering – how did they make it white? Well all wines are technically white when you press the juice from the grape. To give it the blush and red color the grape skins are added to the juice to allow the juice to extract the color from the skins. Depending on how light or dark you want the wine to be the skins are removed after a couple of days to a couple of weeks. However, if there is no skin contact the juice is fermented as a white wine.

So if you are looking for a unique wine for this summer or a great way to trick your friends, I highly suggest you check out Graffi’s White Pinot Noir.


Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

It is an exciting time for us in the vineyard! We are starting to see some swelling in the vines which means that we should be seeing bud break in the next couple of weeks! The next couple of weeks are a perfect time to start planting a vineyard if you want to try grape growing!

How many of you have thought to yourself that owning a winery or a vineyard would be an awesome opportunity? I know I thought that! But when we first started talking about owning a winery or growing grapes we really had no idea where to start. Sure, we loved making wine and we had a couple of vines in our backyard but we didn’t really understand what it meant to be a commercial winery.

Is anyone else sick and tired of winter yet? Spring officially sprang this week but unfortunately I think the Cleveland area missed that memo, so here we are surviving with cold temperatures and potentially more snow. The cold temperatures and extra moisture has lead to a very popular topic amongst the wineries – “how are your vineyards doing?”

I know many of you are sick and tired of seeing the snow, the gray clouds and having to deal with the colder temperatures. But as I mentioned in last week’s column there are some sure signs that Spring is around the corner.

First, aside from it being pancake breakfast season it is also Girl Scout Cookie Season! As the Girl Scout Troop Leader for the 3rd graders at James A. Garfield Elementary this is an exciting time for the girls – taking inventory, learning to manage cookie booths and, of course, raising money for a goal! But with this responsibility comes a lot of cookies which is what makes this next event so special!

It’s the season of flowers, fancy dinners and, of course, lots of hearts. Although if your Valentine’s Day is anything like ours the night is filled with homework, a quick dinner and running out the door to the next sports practice or dance lesson. While Valentine’s Day has never been a major event – even in college my husband would take me to the nearest card section, pick out a card, let me read it, say, “Happy Valentine’s Day” then place the card back on the shelf – it still deserves a little something special!

Even though January brings in our “winter hours” (Friday and Saturdays from 3pm – 9pm) we are quite busy working behind the scenes at the winery. Besides the usual work in the cellar (checking the wine from harvest, monitoring the juice to make sure it stays at a stable temperature, cleaning up the bottling line to get ready for our next bottling session and completing our year end inventory) we are also planning for some exciting events at the winery. 

Happy 2013! Tis the season for making new promises and new goals for the new year. Along with my regular New Year’s resolutions (losing weight, winning the lottery, etc) I am also adding a new resolution this year – broaden my horizons on wine. I like this resolution because it is a great excuse to try some wines that I normally would not go buy.

Last week I gave you 5 of my favorite wine gifts for this year. And while I could probably have this list go on until next Christmas, I will just keep it to the final five! Items four and five can be found at Bed, Bath and Beyond or I’ve even seen them at Kohls! While items one, two and three are great local finds at your local wineries or wine shops

By now you probably have had your share of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries and desserts! But if your family is like mine you also have enough leftovers from dinner to have a second Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you are serving turkey sandwiches, turkey chili, turkey soup, turkey frittatas or just plain turkey there are so many ways you can incorporate any leftover wine.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times how I love the local food trucks… from Hodge Podge (who helped put the Cleveland Food Trucks on the map in Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race) to Sweet! The Mobile Cupcakery (yes, they only sell some of the greatest cupcakes) to Cracked Mobile that specializes in breakfast.

Now that we have talked about red wine and white wine, let’s get into the topic of blushes or rosé wines. When someone mentions a blush wine (usually this wine is a lighter red to pink color) you may start to think about the sweeter taste of White Zinfandel. While this is the most popular blush wine, there are varying degrees of blush wine. 

As I have mentioned in previous columns, this summer has been the best – hot temperatures, plenty of sun, lots of parties, and of course, lots of wine! As harvest season is right around the corner, I thought I would take the next couple of weeks to give you a quick discussion on white wine grapes versus red wine grapes. So grab a glass of your favorite white wine and continue to read…

Any anniversary is a milestone. Whether it is an anniversary for a happy occasion or a sad occasion, every year that passes brings so many more memories. So looking back to 8 years ago when the winery opened, I cannot believe the number of memories and milestones we have celebrated. Actually, I can’t believe that we are celebrating our 8th anniversary of the winery’s grand opening!

Save the date – Vintage Ohio is August 3rd and 4th this year. What is Vintage Ohio you ask? It is Ohio’s largest wine festival held at Lake FarmPark in Kirtland, Ohio. Enjoy the day sampling wines from over 25 Ohio wineries, see over 30 over vendors in the fine art and craft show all to the background beat of reggae, jazz, blues and oldies musicians.