I am amazed at  how many wineries have opened the past few years – especially the number that have opened in Northeast Ohio. When we opened almost 11 years ago there were almost 125 wineries in the state. We are expecting to pass 200 wineries by the end of this year.

Sure, we have a lot of people that stop in and talk about opening a winery but, unfortunately the challenges of obtaining the permits, getting EPA approval and making the wine can be a little overwhelming for some people. So when we see someone’s dream come to fruition and hear of their opening date we cannot wait to go.

Thankfully, we had a great opportunity to attend the opening weekend festivities at Hartford Hill Winery (3864 Bushnell Campbell Rd Fowler, Ohio). About a year ago, owners Randy and Carolyn stopped into our winery to visit and talk about opening a winery. We had a great time visiting with them and while we were honest about the trials and tribulations of owning a winery we could sense that they weren’t going to let anything get in their way of opening – even if it was nerve-wracking.

This past weekend, they officially opened their doors to an amazing crowd despite the snow and cold temperatures. With 7 wines on their menu with 3 fruit wines in the works, we sampled all of the wines and decided to start with a bottle of Riesling and a bottle of Merlot for our table. I really enjoyed the Merlot however the price point ($21 for the bottle) was a little high in my opinion. Their sweet blush was great for the sweet wine drinkers but again we heard many comments about the price.

They also have a great food menu with wood fired pizzas made onsite so we selected a pizza, a cheese plate with a variety of cheeses and meats, a bread and oil plate and a hamburger and chips for our kids. The service was amazing and they had all of the food to us before we even finished sampling.

As we sat back and listened to the musician play we had a chance to admire the building. Randy had purchased two barns over the past few years and had each barn dismantled, loaded up and moved to the property that the winery is on. He assembled both barns to make and “L” shape so when you walk into the winery you immediately get the breath taking view of both barns. While we couldn’t walk around outside from all of the snow I can only imagine sitting on the outdoor patio and sipping on some more wine during the summer.

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