The saying, “April Showers Bring May Flowers” couldn’t be more true in the Valley right now! Although we’ve had our share of rainy weather, rest assured flowers will start to pop up throughout Youngstown very soon. Not sure where to find them? Take a look below for some suggestions.

 

Mill Creek MetroParks – Two ‘Can’t Miss’ Spots

Fellows Riverside Gardens

Home to 12 acres of lush garden landscape, Fellows Riverside Gardens is the perfect starting point for floral finds. Over 40,000 colorful bulbs mark the arrival of spring, from crocus to tulips and everything in between. Visitors (over 400,000 annually) are welcome to peruse the outdoor gardens any day from sunrise to sunset. During rainy days or cool weather, head inside the D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitors Center, open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm, to find an assortment of seasonal exhibits, the Garden Café, horticulture books, gifts and more. Fellows Riverside Gardens is hosting a variety of events this spring including their Spring Plant Sale May 10 & 11. Visit this upcoming weekend, April 13 & 14 for the annual Daffodil Weekend where you can peruse the daffodil show, take trolley rides and go on guided walks to Daffodil Meadow.

 

Wondering what else will be in bloom in the coming months? Here’s a quick list of what you’ll most likely find at Fellows Riverside Gardens throughout the spring season:

  • Mid-April to early May: Daffodils
  • Late April to mid-May: Tulips
  • Mid-May to early June: Shrub Roses
  • Mid-May to late June: Rhododendrons and Azaleas
  • Late May to early June: Iris
  • Late May to late June: Peonies

 

Mill Creek Park Daffodil Meadow

Between mid-April and early May, trek to the Park’s well-known Daffodil Meadow, where you’ll find thousands of daffodils in peak bloom. Located on the east side of Lake Newport, the Meadow attracts a lot of attention each spring. In fact, the area was even named a top place to see daffodils by USA Today!

 

 

Poland Municipal Forest | Bluebell Trail   

Make your way to Poland, and you’ll come across the 265-acre Poland Municipal Forest. With over 30 hiking and biking trails, Poland Forest is known for its wide variety of natural beauty. For the best spring floral views, take the 1-mile Bluebell Trail. The graveled trail starts at the College Street Parking Lot, then heads South before turning back North, reconnecting with itself in the shape of the number six. Along the way, you’ll see brilliant lush bluebells carpeting the forest floor (hence, the trail’s name).

For the best view of the flowers, wait until about the third week of April.

 

 

Looking to purchase plants, flowers or hanging baskets? You won’t be disappointed with a visit to any of these popular locations.

Each April, Lonardo’s Greenhouse in Boardman opens its doors to visitors and locals alike. Inside, you’ll find a diverse selection of flowers, and vegetable plants for your garden. For deals and giveaways, keep an eye on Lonardo’s Facebook page (especially around Mother’s Day). Lonardo’s also boasts a vast array of locally grown fruits and vegetables for purchase.

Lutz Greenhouse on W. Pine Lake Road in Salem is open April, May and June. Their greenhouse is bursting with color and their gift shop offers creative arrangements. Want to have fresh herbs for cooking? They have a wide variety available. Save the date for their annual May Day Sale (May 4 & 5) where everything is 20% off.

Petitti’s Garden Center in Boardman has all the colorful plants the season has to offer, from annuals and perennials to all your landscaping needs. Their popular Spring Ladies Night Out will be held April 25 from 6pm-9pm. Experts will be on hand to answer your questions, and a Mystery Coupon will be offered for a special discount. More information and registration (required) can be found on their website.

 

For more information about all-things-spring happening in Mahoning County, visit our Facebook page or take a look at the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

It’s back by popular demand with ALL NEW charm designs for 2019: The Wines of the Valley Wine Trail! Featuring six area wineries, the Trail encourages you to try a variety of great wine, soak in beautiful views and explore the Mahoning Valley.

 

How it Works     

Traveling the Wines of the Valley Wine Trail is quite simple!

Step 1: Pick up a passport at any of the participating wineries (or download one here)
Step 2: Purchase a glass of wine at each winery
Step 3: Get your passport stamped and receive a unique wine charm exclusive to each winery
Step 4: Earn 5 or more stamps and redeem your passport at one of three redemption locations (listed below) to receive a keepsake charm box and bonus charm

This offer is good through September 29, 2019, so there’s plenty of time to complete the Trail!

 

What’s New?  

This year, the Trail features a completely redesigned set of charms, exclusive to each winery. If you traveled the Trail in 2018, no worries about duplicate charms – you can add to your collection with these new designs. Since last year, Diletto Winery has a new location, The Vineyards at Pine Lake earned a wine recognition and L’uva Bella Winery & Bistro has joined the Wines of the Valley Wine Trail! There’s plenty to experience along the Trail, even for our seasoned WOTV veterans.

 

 

 

Participating Wineries

Mastropietro Winery (passport redemption location)
14558 Ellsworth Rd. | Berlin Center | 330-547-2151

Located near Berlin Lake and Lake Milton, sip on award-winning wines while taking in 14 acres of beautiful views. The winery includes a Tuscan-style tasting room, patio and one-acre lake. They are well-known for their Hot Air Balloon Festival in August (read about it on pg 21 of our 2019 Travel Guide).  

 

The Vineyards at Pine Lake (passport redemption location)
14101 Market St. | Columbiana | 234-759-3980

This expansive winery and vineyard is located on Pine Lake. Cozy up next to the fireplace in the winter, emjoy the patio with lakefront views in spring and summer, or visit in the early fall for harvest season when the vines are at their peak.

 

 L’uva Bella Winery & Bistro (passport redemption location)
6597 Center Rd. | Lowellville | 330-536-6450

A California-style winery with an inviting outdoor patio, and the newest addition to the Wines of the Valley Wine Trail. Here you’ll find a wine-tasting bar, lounge and restaurant featuring Italian specialties. Try a pizza from their old world-style wood fired pizza oven. 

 

Diletto Winery
8578 Market St. | Boardman | 330-330-8844

Relax by the fireplace or sign up for a sip-and-paint session at their new location. Murder mystery dinners, fruit wines, sangria and mead are also things you can expect to find at Diletto. Up for a challenge? Try their escape room.

 

Halliday’s Winery
2400 N.E. River Rd. | Lake Milton | 330-654-9463

Located between picturesque Lake Milton and the links of Olde Dutch Mill Golf Course. Enjoy appetizers, snacks, salads, paninis and flatbread pizzas. The winery also showcases local artists with exhibitions that change monthly.

 

Lil Paws Winery
17574 Mahoning Ave. | Lake Milton | 330-970-9463

Choose from a wide variety of wines and craft beers inspired by the owners’ K9 “kids”. You can bring your own food or snacks to enjoy with your wine or beer. (but, keep in mind that a glass of wine warrants a stamp and charm, not beer).

 

Make it a Winery Weekend

If you’re traveling the Trail from out of town, why not make it a winery weekend? Take advantage of special hotel rates offered to Trail travelers. Important note: make sure to call the hotels to ask for special Wine Trail rates. Booking online will not guarantee discounts.

 

Bella Fattoria Bed & Breakfast | 14560 Ellsworth Rd. | Berlin Center | 330-720-2544

Sebring Mansion Inn & Spa | 385 W. Ohio Ave. | Sebring | 330-938-0423

Courtyard by Marriott | 4173 Westford Pl. | Canfield | 330-533-6880

Best Western Plus – Dutch Haus Inn & Suites | 150 E. State Route 14 | Columbiana | 330-482-5050

Holiday Inn Hotel & Conference Center | 7410 South Ave. | Boardman | 330-726-1611

Fairfield by Marriott | 7397 Tiffany Blvd. South | Boardman | 330-726-5979

Hampton Inn | 880 N. Canfield-Niles Rd. | Austintown | 330-544-0660

Home2 Suites | 5580 Interstate Blvd. | Austintown | 330-505-9935

 

Need a Designated Driver?

It’s ALWAYS important to drink responsibly. Inviting along a designated driver is encouraged, but if a friend isn’t prepared to take one for the team, explore your other transportation options. Both Uber and Lyft serve the Mahoning Valley, while local companies like Fab Cab (330-793-6666) and DD4Hire (330-259-0445) are other great alternatives. And if you’re traveling with a large group, consider contacting Kelco Services at 440-542-4410 for a shuttle.

 

Share Your Stories

Join the Wines of the Valley conversation on social media! Share photos and posts of your experiences while traveling the Wine Trail by using the hashtag #WinesoftheValley or by tagging @youngstownlive. Enjoy your journey! Cheers!

 

For more information about the Wines of the Valley Wine Trail, visit winesofthevalley.com! To stay up-to-date on all things happening in Mahoning County, visit our Facebook page or take a look at the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

As the birthplace of Brier Hill Pizza, (the locally-loved green pepper and cheese creation) and home to countless local pizza shops, Youngstown was practically built on a foundation of crust, tomato sauce and cheese. From Valley favorites to unconventional concoctions, there’s no shortage of pies to try in the Youngstown area.  As a visitor, how do you know which to try first? Take a look at our brief guide to a few area pizza places below to learn more about local favorites.

 

The Tale of Brier Hill Pizza    

We can’t talk about pizza without first paying homage to Youngstown’s most famous pie: Brier Hill Pizza. What is it? A delicious combination of thick crust, flavorful tomato sauce, green peppers and Romano cheese. When manufacturing communities like Youngstown were hit by The Great Depression, many locals turned to their home gardens for meals. With the help of community ovens, the Brier Hill neighborhood, aka “Youngstown’s Little Italy” transformed their easy-to-grow tomatoes and peppers into what is now known and loved as Brier Hill pizza.


The Best Brier Hill Pizza

Many shops in the area serve up Brier Hill Pizza. The Avalon Downtown is one popular pizzeria, known for its Brier Hill variety complete with sweet peppers and imported Romano cheese. Bruno Bros. Pizza serves up New York style pizza, and also claims to have the #1 Brier Hill pizza in Ohio (you can be the judge of that). One of the most notable Brier Hill curators is family-owned Wedgewood Pizza in Austintown and Boardman, recently recognized in a Food Network article for having the area’s best Brier Hill pizza.

 

The Secret’s in the Sauce

It all starts with the sauce. Visit Cornersburg Pizza in (you guessed it) Cornersburg, and you’ll find an old-fashioned pizza place serving up pies smothered in a tomato and green pepper sauce. And if you visit The Elmton in Struthers, expect to find more sauce with green peppers, along with lots of Broasted Chicken (battered and deep fried in a pressure cooker).

 

Progressive Pies

There are also shops in the Valley offering unconventional options.  If you’re on YSU’s campus visit Republic Pizzeria e Pub! They’re known for their hand-crafted artisan pizzas, available by the slice or full pie – try the White Pizza. At Southgate Pizza in Boardman you’ll find a crunchy crust and interesting specialty varieties, like pierogi and gyro. If you’re visiting with kids, make a stop at Bella Napoli in Canfield. At this shop, pizzas can be built and decorated in custom shapes and sizes (like a clock), upon request. At Ianazone’s Pizza in Boardman, consider trying their Baked Potato Pizza. And unlike most shops, Uptown Pizza in Youngstown is known for putting their pepperoni under the cheese rather than on top.

 

Party Pizzas

Need a larger-than-average pizza for your next party? Head to Cocca’s Pizza Friday – Sunday and order their popular full sheet pizza for a special price. Or, take your party to Cocca’s on a Wednesday for their all-you-can-eat buffet. They have eight different locations in our area and won the People’s Choice Award in 2018. Or, visit family-owned Giangelo’s Pizzeria and try their “Soooo Big” Gia’s Pizza, complete with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, red & green peppers, hot peppers, onions & olives. And we’re pretty sure the phrase “you can’t please everyone” isn’t in Westgate Pizza’s vocabulary. Their sheet pizzas can be divided into three varieties, four varieties and even six varieties, aka the Super Sampler.

 

But Wait, There’s More

While all of the pizza shops in Mahoning County have great varieties, some are known for more than just their pizza. When dining at Inner Circle Pizza add a delicious order of hot chips. Pick up a “pizza roller” at Pizza Joe’s – rolls of fresh dough filled with pepperoni and cheese – to add to your Philly Steak or Buffalo Chicken pizza. For a heaping slice of authentic Italian tradition, visit LaRocca’s Pizza and Pasta in Poland, known for their homemade traditional dishes. At Belleria Pizza & Italian Restaurant, you’ll find plenty of pizzas, but if you’re really hungry, try their half gallon tub of spaghetti. Try the Smoky Hollow Pizza at Cassese’s MVR where you can enjoy your slice while watching a serious match on their bocce courts.

 

For more information on other restaurants in Youngstown & Mahoning County, visit the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website or Facebook page!

Avalon Downtown photo credit: @rchillman

With a new and improved location, countless specialty wines and exciting events, Diletto Winery is definitely worth a visit while in Mahoning County. Today, we’re here to share the inside-scoop on Diletto’s big move to Boardman, along with more details about their varied wine selection, sip ‘n paints and February fun.

 

New Location  

Diletto bid adieu to blueberry donuts, and said hello to ballrooms as they moved from Canfield (across from White House Fruit Farm) to the old Antone’s Banquet Centre, 8578 Market St. in Boardman. The quaint winery packed up in September and has since transformed their new location into a bigger and better Diletto Winery. The challenge: how do you create a cozy and intimate winery vibe in a massive space like the former Antone’s? The answer: lots of comfy couches, warm lighting and (of course) good wine.

 

How Good?

At Diletto, you’ll find a wide variety of quality wines, sangrias and ciders- with the flavors constantly changing. In the summertime, try peach or Hawaiian sangria, or grab a glass of one of their specialty fruit wines. In the fall, watch for some of their award-winning wine ciders to return to the shelf, along with caramel apple sangria. And winter calls for even more unique flavors, wrapped in custom holiday-themed labels.

In addition to a wide drink selection, Diletto also serves up some delicious bites (and full meals, for events). On their regular menu you’ll find snacks like cheese plates, flatbread pizzas and sandwiches. And on Fridays and Saturdays, jumbo wings are dry rubbed, smoked in-house and sold for just 79 cents each.

 

Upcoming Events  

From murder mystery dinners and challenging escape rooms, to relaxing sip ‘n paint sessions, Diletto Winery hosts a plethora of fun events. And their new spacious location allows ample room for activities. Here’s what’s happening soon:

 

Sip ‘n Paint

Participate in one of Diletto’s upcoming guided painting sessions! A preview of the paintings can be found on Diletto’s event calendar. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here.

Jan 17 at 6pm | Winter Woods

Jan 24 at 6pm | Coffee ‘Till Wine

Jan 26 at 1pm | Dreaming of Spring

 

 

Valentine’s Dinner & Concert | Feb 14 at 6pm

This Valentine’s Day, you can treat your loved one to a special four-course dinner at Diletto! Tickets are just $35 per person and include a dinner buffet, glass of wine, romantic live music and roses for the ladies.

 

Valentine’s Murder Mystery Dinner | Feb 16 at 5pm

Play along as the suspect of a murder during a 3 or 4-course meal. Visitors are assigned specific characters with “roles” to act out and, throughout the night, you must guess who committed the crime. Tickets are $49 and include a glass of wine, food and fun entertainment.

 

Escape Rooms | Saturdays 4 – 9:15pm

Have an exciting (and possibly frustrating) night out with friends or family by participating in Diletto’s themed escape room! Whether you’re breaking out of prison or robbing a bank, your mission remains the same: use clues to escape the room before the time runs out. Tickets are $28 and can be reserved here.

 

All of Diletto’s events, descriptions and links for tickets can be found on their event calendar.

 

 

Whether you’re looking for a great glass of wine or fun night out, Diletto Winery has something for everyone. For more information on Diletto and other local wineries, visit our Facebook page or take a look at the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

Whether you love classic rock hits, today’s pop tunes or a genre in-between, we can all agree on one thing: the Youngstown area is the place to go for great music. From Stambaugh Auditorium to Covelli Centre to the DeYor Performing Arts Center, Youngstown is a musical performance hotspot. Don’t miss out on all the acts coming to town in the coming months!

 

What’s Happening at Stambaugh Auditorium?   

This January, YouTube sensation Postmodern Jukebox will take the Stambaugh stage on Wednesday, January 30 at 7:30pm. The group is known for reworking pop hits (think Bruno Mars’ Finesse or Jessie J’s Domino) into different vintage genres, especially swing and jazz. Their covers include powerful vocals, trumpets, electric guitars, piano, cello, you-name-it; and you can expect all that and more during their performance this January. But, don’t take our word for it. Head to their YouTube channel to hear the group in action. Make sure to visit Stambaugh’s website and grab seats before they’re gone!

 

If swing and jazz isn’t quite your style, wait until February for an exclusive performance by rock icon John Mellencamp. The tour will make its stop at Stambaugh on Tuesday, February 19 (aka perfect timing for a belated Valentine’s Day date), and the show will start at 8:00pm. Expect lots of Mellencamp hits, along with new material from his recently-released album, “Other People’s Stuff.” Purchase your ticket and receive a physical copy of the new album!

 

Opened in 1926, Stambaugh Auditorium is a non-profit public auditorium located on Fifth Avenue in Youngstown. It’s a hotspot for many of the city’s major productions and performances. The facility’s renowned Concert Hall seats up to 2,553 visitors and has hosted a long list of notable artists. Fun fact: the Concert Hall is famous for its near-perfect acoustics! Stambaugh also features a ballroom, recital hall and formal garden open for public and private functions.

 

 

How About Covelli Centre?

Covelli Centre is Youngstown’s premier sports and entertainment facility. And despite being a smaller venue, Covelli brings in world-class special events, sports match-ups and concerts- like these ones:

 

Up-and-coming country artist Kane Brown has had a major impact on the genre, and his Live Forever Tour will stop at the Covelli Centre on Saturday, February 23 at 7:00pm. With guest singer, Danielle Bradbery (victor of The Voice), this powerful duo will perform a variety of Kane’s hits, including singles from his new album, “Experiment.” Make sure to purchase your tickets here before they’re gone.

 

Catch a performance from American rock staple, Shinedown at the Covelli Centre on Tuesday, March 5. Papa Roach and Asking Alexandria have joined forces with Shinedown to create the ultimate rock concert. With so many well-rounded musicians, expect this to be the concert of a lifetime. Purchase tickets here for their ATTENTION ATTENTION World Tour performance, starting at 7:00pm.

 

 

Don’t Forget About DeYor Performing Arts Center!

Home of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and known for its elegant ambiance, you’ll find more productions and less rock concerts at the DeYor Performing Arts Center. Visit DeYor on Thursday, January 24 to witness a classic performance of Swan Lake, presented by the National Ballet Theatre of Odessa. Or grab tickets to a semi-staged concert version of the hit Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls on Saturday, February 16. Starting at 8:00pm, the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra will recreate the show, complete with its many show-stopping tunes (i.e. “Luck Be a Lady”). On Saturday, March 9, Celtic violinist Mairead Nesbitt will take the DeYor stage, accompanied by students from the Burke Irish School of Dance. Mark your spring calendars as Jersey Boys rolls into Youngstown for two performances, April 22-23. And get ready to laugh with comedienne Paula Poundstone on May 17. You don’t want to miss these shows! Tickets for all DeYor events can be purchased here.

For more information on upcoming events in Youngstown & Mahoning County, visit our Facebook page or take a look at the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

Season of Lights – Boardman Township Park

Enjoy a holiday drive through the Park to marvel at the beautiful light displays. It’s free and is open from 6pm to 10pm each night. Tune into 88.9FM to enjoy the music with the light show.

When: December 2-January 6, 6:00pm-10:00pm
Where: Boardman Park, 375 Boardman-Poland Road, Boardman

 

Winter Nights – Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek MetroParks

During Saturdays in December, Winter Celebration: Frozen in Time is open late until 7pm. Visitors can experience the outdoor light display and the Toy Workshop and Reindeer Games. Plus, find that perfect gift at the Shop in the Gardens and savor refreshments available for purchase in the Garden Cafe.

When: Saturdays, December 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Where: Fellows Riverside Gardens, 123 McKinley Ave., Youngstown

 

Joy of Christmas

The Joy of Christmas drive-through holiday light display features one million lights in 80 holiday scenes. In addition to the light displays, guests can stop by Santa’s Ice Castle to enjoy Christmas cookies, hot chocolate and food, live holiday music, crafts, face-painting, and pictures with Santa. $10 donation per vehicle requested.

When: Thursdays-Sundays, 6:00pm-9:00pm. Open nightly December 13-26, 6:00pm-9:00pm
Where: Firestone Park, 338 E. Park Ave, Columbiana, 330-482-2282

 

Downtown Youngstown

The annual Youngstown Holiday Parade & Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on Friday, November 30, from 4:00pm-8:00pm in Downtown Youngstown.  Festivities include the parade, Christmas Tree lighting and Santa’s arrival. Following the parade, the lights will be on display for the season on Central Square and Federal Street.

 

Home Light Displays

Be sure to check out some of the local home light displays. This listing will be updated:

Canfield Christmas Lights
Animated light display. Tune radios to 107.7FM.
Where: 333 Fairview Ave, Canfield

Christmas on the Boulevard
A holiday light show synchronized to music on 99.9FM.
Where: 2829 Poland Village Blvd., Poland

 

For information on the many holiday events in the Mahoning Valley, visit the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

While the leaves are slow to change this year, there’s still beautiful fall foliage views to see. And if you’re searching for the absolute most Instagram-worthy photo spots in Mahoning County, you’ve come to the right place! Today we’re sharing some of the best local spots to capture fall views.

 

Mill Creek MetroParks

If you ask a local, “where can I go in Mahoning County for the best fall foliage?” – there’s a 99% chance that they’ll say two words: Mill Creek. And we don’t disagree! Mill Creek MetroParks is home to some of the most beautiful trails, bike paths, bridges, ponds, lakes, gardens, you-name-it, in the area. But with the park spanning across 4,400+ acres of Mahoning County, we thought it might be helpful to narrow down the very best spots to see fall foliage in Mill Creek.

 

Lanterman’s Mill is one of Mahoning County’s most iconic historic landmarks, and an ultra-popular photo spot. Fun fact: The Mill was built in 1845-46 and still operates today! And while the park has many water features, we recommend visiting Lake Glacier and Lily Pond. The surrounding trees reflected in the water make for some pretty picturesque scenes. And make sure you don’t leave without visiting the Mill Creek Park Suspension Bridge aka the “Cinderella Bridge.” Its lacy arches and tall spires have been the backdrop to countless engagement photos- and you’ll understand why once you visit. Long story, short- you can’t go wrong with a visit to Mill Creek during the fall.

 

Anything else outdoors?

Of course! Both Berlin Lake and Lake Milton are also home to beautiful foliage in the fall. Berlin Lake is one of Ohio’s largest inland lakes, stretching over 3,000 acres and it’s open for public use.  Insider tip: take US 224 and cross Berlin Lake. There’s space to park your car and take photos, making it a perfect vantage point to see the water and trees. Lake Milton is equally as beautiful with a 4-mile mountain bike trail and you can also visit Lake Milton State Park for plenty of photo ops.

 

Sip ‘n See

Believe it or not, you don’t have to fly to California for great vineyard views. There are several wineries right in Mahoning County, with many sporting beautiful fall foliage. Take a seat on the patio at The Vineyards at Pine Lake for a shimmering scene of Pine Lake surrounded by trees. Halliday’s Winery also offers views of water (Lake Milton) and foliage. Not close enough? Visit Myrddin Winery and literally sit among the trees!

 

And while you’re sipping and seeing all the fall foliage, why not collect some stamps too? Grab a Wines of the Valley Wine Trail passport and earn custom wine charms at six of our wineries with each glass of wine you purchase! Here’s all the details.

 

Hidden Gem

One spot that even the locals might not think to visit for fall foliage is actually Youngstown State University’s Stambaugh Stadium. If you’re there to catch a Penguins game (next home game is November 10), the stadium’s tall stands offer a spectacular view of the city and changing leaves.

 

Don’t miss all of the great opportunities to witness fall’s changing colors in Mahoning County! Share your fall photos with us @YoungstownLive or #VisitYoungstown. For more information on local parks, lakes and wineries, visit the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

Sprawling acres of lush green vines, freshly-curated wine and a glistening lake can only mean one thing: The Vineyards at Pine Lake. Family-owned and located in Columbiana, this stop on the Wines of the Valley Wine Trail is bustling with energy during its busiest time of year, harvest season! And today we’re traveling behind the vines with a look at the harvest process and VPL’s upcoming Harvest Festival.

 

Behind the Vines of Harvest Season

The Vineyards at Pine Lake is home to over 3,600 grape plants- so you can imagine that getting those grapes from vine to glass is no simple feat. But amid the season’s hustle and bustle, winemaker Joe Glista went live to give us all a behind-the-scenes look at each step of the wine harvest process. Here’s the cliff notes:

 

Step 1: Harvest the Grapes

Starting in the last week of August, Joe and his crew headed to VPL’s 4.5 acres of vines for the first step in wine harvest: collecting the grapes. With “grape forks” in hand, the team cut the grapes from their stems, dropped them into buckets and sent them off to the crusher. Watch the video here.

 

Step 2: Crush and De-Stem

Over 15 tons of grapes eventually make their way to the crusher and de-stemmer machine, located on VPL’s crush pad. The machine pulls the grapes through rubber rollers that squish out the juice and send the remnants down to the de-stemmer. The end result? Grape material ready for fermentation and stems ready for the compost pile. See the machine here.

 

Step 3: Start Yeast Fermentation

Once the grapes are smushed and separated from their stem counterparts, it’s time to ferment. Joe adds a sugar and water mixture to increase the sugar levels. He then adds tempered yeast to the bin and lets it convert the sugar to alcohol. Watch the video here.

 

Step 4: Punch the Cap

As the yeast does its job, the grape skins and stems (aka the “cap”) float to the top of the bin. Why? Because the added yeast releases CO2 gasses, causing the material to float. Thus in order for red wine to have the right color and flavor, Joe must press down the skins using something called a punch down tool. See how it’s done here.

 

Step 5: Start Malolactic Fermentation

This step in fermentation involves adding beneficial bacteria that converts malic acid into a much smoother and easier-to-drink lactic acid. Watch it added here.

 

Step 6: Press Wine Off the Skins

Once the flavors are right, the wine and grape mixture is shoveled into VPL’s bladder press. This machine pushes the grape skins to the outside and drains the wine into a collection bin. The grape material is collected in a bag and the wine travels into a massive tank. See the machine here. Note: this is the last video posted, but not the last step in winemaking. Check back to VPL’s Facebook page in the next few weeks for the rest of the process.

 

If you’re like us and thinking “this is awesome, how do I see more?!” You’re in luck! On Saturday, Oct 20 from 1-7 p.m., The Vineyards at Pine Lake is offering the ultimate wine harvest experience at their first-ever Harvest Festival.

 

What’s Happening at Harvest Festival?

A lot. From 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., you’ll have the chance to celebrate the wine harvest season with the release of VPL’s first estate-grown wine, exclusive wine tasting tours, hands-on sessions, live music, food, craft beer from Birdfish Brewing Co., games, face painting, local vendors and more. Here’s the schedule:

1:00 – 1:45       Vineyards White Release

2:00 – 3:30       Vine to Bottle Tour*

3:30 – 5:00       Parents Wine Blend Class/Kids Dessert Creation Class*

5:30 – 7:00       Vine to Bottle Tour*

 

*How to Get Tickets

Although admission to Harvest Festival is free, you won’t really get the full wine harvest experience unless you grab tickets to one of the event’s interactive sessions. And in our opinion, they’re more than worth the price. Bringing a date? Reserve tickets for the Vine to Bottle Tour, which includes wine tastings, for just $15/person. You can choose from two different tour times, starting at either 2 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. Have kids? Grab tickets to the Parents Wine Blend Class for $20/adult and your kids get to create a dessert with VPL’s Executive Chef for free. All ticket details and links can be found at vplharvestfestival.eventbrite.com.

 

 

 

This harvest season, take advantage of this beautiful vineyard located in southern Mahoning County! And when you visit, don’t forget to bring your Wines of the Valley passport, purchase a glass of wine and earn your stamp and wine charm. Looking for more winery events in Mahoning County? Visit our Facebook page or take a look at the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

Okay, we’ll say it: IT’S FALL Y’ALL! Sweater season has officially arrived & we’re here to make sure you don’t stay on the couch for another movie marathon. Instead, visit Youngstown & Mahoning County for the many fall-tastic happenings. Keep scrolling for our ultimate guide to fall – festivals, pumpkin pickin’ & spiced lattes included.

Raid the stores for lederhosen and practice your guten tag – Oktoberfest is next week and you won’t want to miss it. The new Rhine Haus Bier Hall (opening soon) is celebrating big September 28-30 with their first-ever Youngstown Oktoberfest. Expect authentic German cuisine, live music, pretzel tosses, beer belly contests and a lot more on Phelps Street in downtown YO, right next to Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts. If you get lost, just follow the polka music & pierogi scents.

Mahoning County fall fests = your one-stop shop for all things fall. Pick any weekend from now until October 28 and celebrate the season at White House Fruit Farm. Their Fall Celebration Weekends include a petting zoo, pony rides, food vendors, caramel apples, cider, donuts – the list goes on. It’s family-friendly and extremely popular among locals and visitors. The fall fare continues with Molnar Farms’ Fall Fest on Saturday, September 29 from 9am-5pm. Find home décor from 20+ featured vendors. The Boardman Rotary is hosting its 42nd Annual Oktoberfestival on Sunday, September 30. Check it out at Boardman Township Park from 9am-5pm (pro tip: wear comfortable shoes). And if you’re one of those “it’s not fall until October” kind of people, then wait until the Fall Festival happening at Lamppost Farm on Saturday, October 6. It’s open to all ages, with hayrides, games, demos & fall food for purchase.

We can’t promise you’ll find the Great Pumpkin, but we can at least tell you where to find lots of pumpkins n’ patches in Mahoning County. During the first three weekends of October, visit Mill Creek MetroParks Farm for their Pick a Pumpkin events. It includes a tractor ride ($1) out to their patch, a pumpkin ($3) and decorating session. White House Fruit Farm’s pumpkin pavilion is also now open to visitors. But, for those that are ready to get elbow-deep in pumpkin goop, head to Fellows Riverside Gardens for Pumpkin Carving October 11-13. All carved pumpkins will then be showcased in their Pumpkin Walk at Twilight on Sunday, October 14 (date night anyone?).

Disclaimer: the following events might lead to nightmares. Haunted house lovers and fans of fear, the Canfield Scaregrounds is where you need to be. Open every weekend from September 28 – October 31, the Canfield FairScaregrounds is home to six terrifying attractions (think: barn of evil, haunted circus, zombie massacre). For ticket prices and discounts visit canfieldscaregrounds.com. In other spooky news, you can take a tour of the historic Oak Hill Cemetery on Saturday, October 27. Enjoy The Twilight Zone performed on stage at the Hopewell Theatre, or see The Addams Family performed by YSU Theater October 19-28.

This season, local shops are pulling out all of the stops when it comes to fall-themed goodies. Here’s where you need to go:

  • Branch Street Coffee Roasters: check their Instagram for all the deets on their new fall flavor releases
  • High Octane Coffee Co.: try their pumpkin iced latte & specialty ice cream
  • Handel’s Ice Cream: seasonal flavors include caramel apple, pumpkin pecan & pumpkin ripple (lots of locations)
  • White House Fruit Farm: pumpkin donuts (the best), pumpkin roll, apple cider, pies & anything else you could possibly want
  • The Orange Avocado: a quaint juicery now serving pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie smoothies

 Make the most out of this season and get your fall on while in the Youngstown area! Out of date night ideas? See a performance at Hopewell Theatre. Ready to carve pumpkins? Pick the perfect one from the MetroParks Farm’s patch. Craving sweets? We bet those White House pumpkin donuts are calling your name. To stay up-to-date on upcoming fall events in Youngstown & Mahoning County, visit our Facebook page or take a look at the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!

Believe it or not, we are two weeks away from the largest county fair in the state of Ohio! Mahoning County’s Canfield Fair is back and better than ever for its 172nd year! Mark your calendars for August 29-September 3 and head out to the fairgrounds for entertainment, rides, food, animals and more.

 

What’s Happening?

Not sure which day you should visit the Canfield Fair? Take a look at the major events happening each day:

  • Wednesday, August 29: Senior Day | Guided Senior Shuttles are available from 8:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thursday, August 30: Youth Day | activity tent, free high school band show and the Junior Fair Youth Day Program
  •  Friday, August 31: World’s Largest Demolition Derby (8pm), Bike Nite (starts at 3pm)
  •  Saturday, September 1: Canfield Fair Championship Truck and Tractor Pull (7pm), Draft Pony Pig Iron Derby
  •  Sunday, September 2: Matthew West featuring Hawk Nelson & I Am They (6pm) | worship services in the morning
  •  Monday, September 3: Toby Keith (8pm), Rooster Crowing Contest, Harness Racing

 For a complete list of the Canfield fair events, times and locations, visit the digital Canfield Fair program.

 

What Else Can I Do?

The special events (listed above) are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to see and do at the Canfield Fair. Over 400 vendors fill the grounds, featuring food, crafts and everything in between. Massive buildings are filled with 4H projects, wood carvers, artists, flowers and our personal favorite, pumpkins. Animals can be found in several of the barns located around the fairgrounds, housing everything from rabbits to dairy cows. Old-fashioned and brand new farm machinery sit on display. Visitors can take advantage of the special kids’ activities or senior resting spaces when they need them. And hundreds of fair food trucks await with fresh cut fries, funnel cakes, corndogs, you name it. Overwhelming, right? Luckily there’s a map!

 

What’s New?

So there’s food, entertainment, animals…what about the rides? This year, the fair is adding ten new rides to its already-impressive lineup- including a full-scale roller coaster. Another ride, called the Tornado, can spin in five different directions. Overall, the new rides are larger than your average carny coaster which means more fun and less waiting time. And according to Canfield Fair president Dave Dickey, the new rides are “Cedar Point quality rides.”

 

What Will It Cost?  

It all depends on when you want to go and what you want to do! View the gate admission prices for each day of the fair. If you’re visiting the fair for multiple days, you can purchase a 3-day ticket pass for $15 or 6-day pass for $30. On Wednesday, senior admission is $4 and on Friday, it’s $6. On Thursday, children 12 years & under get in for free. All major events and fair rides have separate ticket costs. More information is located on the official Canfield Fair website.

 

With plenty of food, fun rides and ample entertainment, the Canfield Fair is just 16 short days away from opening day! For more exciting events happening in the Youngstown area, check out the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau website!