Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery

I am so lucky to have so many friends that have beautiful gardens. From a variety of fruits, vegetables and even flowers, everyone’s gardens have been bountiful this year! And now, as harvest season is approaching the vineyard, many of you have already started to harvest your peppers, tomatoes, peaches, apples and many more foods. The amount of fruits and vegetables that my friends have given me this year has been amazing.

However, with all of this food it can be tough to pair wines with the variety of vegetables. As a fan of dry red wines, many fruits and vegetables seem to get lost in the heavy flavors of a dry red wine. So this harvest season I have started a few experiments that I thought I should share with you.

My first experiment was to make a garden salsa and figure out what to wine would be good match. I made two batches of salsa – a nice tame salsa of green, yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, celery, onions and cilantro. Then since I love spicy foods, I made a spicier salsa that included all of the items from my tame salsa but added about 5 different hot peppers to it.

Since there were so many different flavors in both salsas that any heavy bodied (Cabernets, Sangioveses, Chardonnays) would overpower the salsa. So I started with a crisp Riesling and paired it with the salsa. It was so good that I set aside some extra salsa and added a splash of Riesling to it as a marinade. Anytime I have a spicy dish I make sure that I have a good bottle of Gewürztraminer on hand.  The peppery finish from the Gewurztraminer really compliments the spicy peppers in the salsa.

I am also enjoying the chance to eat fresh salads topped with fresh fruit and vegetables. However pairing wine to a basic salad is difficult at times so adding this much flavor to a salad makes the pairing a little more difficult. Depending on the salad dressing, I usually stick to a Vidal Blanc wine. With a creamier dressing I try to go a little drier with a Sauvignon Blanc wine or a Pinot Gris. If you have a light dressing or even a fruit dressing (like a raspberry dressing) I bring out the Vidal.

Depending on the size of your garden you can also look at making wine from some of the fruit and vegetables. Next week I will share some of my favorite “fresh from the garden” wine recipes.


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

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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.