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.

To really understand the wine, it is recommended that a barrel tasting is done first thing in the morning. While it is odd to be drinking wine before your first cup of coffee, this process actually makes sense. Your taste buds have not yet been subjected to other tastes so your senses are at the peak then. With the use of a wine thief, a long tube that siphons a sample of wine from the barrel, a small sample is pulled and set in a glass.

When we are tasting red wines, we usually let the wine sit for a while to allow the wine to open up and allow oxygen in the wine. On the other hand, if it is a white, we do not let it sit for an extended length of time. By following the “4S” rule (see, swirl, smell, sip) we analyze each wine and determine if it is ready to be bottled, if it needs to sit a little longer or if we need to rack it (move it to a new tank).

Once a wine is ready to be bottled, the barrel is marked and another larger sample of wine is selected. This sample usually is a bottle or two and is stored for a couple weeks before the final decision is made to bottle it. Since a lot of work goes into making the wine, we always check to make sure the wine is ready and stable instead of rushing to bottle it. In the next few weeks, I will talk about the bottling process as we start to bottle the 2013 vintage wines.


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