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.

Thankfully, there are some great and knowledgeable people at the Ohio Wine Producers Association (OWPA) and at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) that helped us get started. Before we even bought the property on Center Road, they encouraged us to attend their yearly conference called the Ohio Wine Short Course (the name recently changed to the Ohio Grape and Wine Conference). Not only is this 2 ½ day seminar filled with sessions from some the industry leaders in grape growing and wine making but many Ohio wineries send representatives to it so we can discuss issues that are only hitting Ohio wineries.

This year’s conference did not disappoint the attendees. “Tracks” or specialized sessions were created for people to learn about grape growing, wine making and marketing the wines. There was a lot of talk about establishing a new vineyard as Ohio expects to see a 10% increase in the amount of wineries in the next 3 years. Not only were attendees walked through how to create their vineyard, but soil types were discussed as well as how to protect the young vines given recent Ohio temperatures.

Wine makers were entertained as well with wine tasting of flawed wines. This is always one of my favorite sessions because not only do you get to try different wines, but you have to figure out what is wrong with each wine so you know what to correct in each wine. It’s quite a challenge when you are used to drinking excellent wines. An added bonus to the sessions included a discussion of winery equipment for new and established wineries. Technology is changing every day and so is the equipment we use.

Finally, for the people like me, who are responsible for marketing the wines, this year’s topic around tourism was quite interesting. Current economic times have changed how people vacation and what they buy. It’s no secret that winos travel almost anywhere for wine, but as money is tight, we are relying more and more on people staying close to home for a vacation. The wine industry is trying to show people that it is okay to be a “locavore”, or a person who tends to shop, eat at or visit local attractions.

Overall, the sessions and attendees were great and we look forward to future conferences. If you are interested in more information about creating a vineyard or starting a winery, I highly encourage you to visit to get more information. Or stop out, we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about opening a winery.


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