Author Archives: Amanda Devine

Amanda Devine

About Amanda Devine

Amanda has lived in Berks County her whole life, but recently has discovered a passion for exploring the culinary and cultural world Lancaster has to offer. Her and her husband Eric, live in Reading, PA but love to travel and explore new places. If not at her full-time position at Ark Animal Hospital, Amanda can most likely be found sipping and savoring the wines of Lancaster and Berks county or at home watching her favorite show, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. She feels very fortunate to have a family that supports her passions and a husband who is constantly willing to experience those "out of the box" locations with her.

Reading Art Works, the perfect venue

Surprises are few and far between when you have lived in the same place for your entire life; especially when it comes to aspects of culture you love like food, wine, and entertainment, but recently I was pleasantly surprised. The revelation: a trip to a local event rental and art gallery space called Reading Art Works (RAW).

Located just outside of the historical section of Reading, PA, RAW impresses from the second you walk through the door. Owners Janice and David Telstar are celebrating RAW’s 8th year in business in the old Pattern Works building, originally known for producing railroad engine parts. When they bought the building it suffered from typical abandonment issues: stained floors, broken windows, leaking roofs, and an overall state of decay. What they have done with the place is astonishing. David combined his love for refurbishing old items and carpentry with Janice’s 30+ years of event planning knowledge to create a space that screams “industrial chic.” Beautifully restored sliding garage doors separate the available studio spaces (available for rent starting at $350) while David’s furniture creations, ranging from birdhouses to high top tables made from old shutters, leave no doubt in any potential renter’s mind of the infinite possibilities available at RAW.

Simply put, this space is gorgeous. With its two levels, RAW can hold events for up to 800 people including holiday parties, weddings, photography shoots, and more. The space lends itself to the imagination, and with the help of the on-site interior designer, Karen Weinberger, any event can be transformed into your wildest dreams. Karen is a talented self-taught artist, and RAW is home to her event décor business, British Brat @ Studio #5.  She offers Decor Rental and Design Services to assist RAW customers in fulfilling their vision of a picture perfect day, all while keeping your budget intact. Decor Rental items include lounge areas, chalk boards, old windows, new crystal chandeliers and much more.  In addition Karen can design and customize ceremony backdrops, create ceiling decor, photo backdrops, etc. You can see some her work on RAW’s facebook page.

The studio spaces on the first floor are spacious with radiant light shining through the building’s restored windows. The art gallery featured on the first floor is breathtaking on its own. Presently adorned with pieces by a local Philadelphia artist, Kathleen Shaver, the space is clean, modern, and leaves you with a sense of sophistication and creativity. If the first floor left me breathless, entering the loft sent me to heaven. The short staircase to the second floor leads into an open room with hardwood floors, industrial beams, and gorgeous light through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Walking around this loft, even devoid of event decorations, would give any past, present, or future bride chills. I could not stop thinking about the possibilities for such a space and neither can David. We spent an hour talking about his ideas for expansion, some including the addition of gardens and decks; let me tell you, these ideas will only amplify the success of this business.

With its unique location, interior aesthetic, and personable staff, I highly recommend Reading Art Works to anyone looking for gallery space, event space, or even a wedding location. You would be crazy not to take advantage of the natural sunlight, the exceptional artwork, and the simple industrial beauty that RAW has to offer. I can only thank David and Janice enough for enlightening me to such a wonderful surprise so close to home!  Visit RAW’s website at http://readingartworks.com.

A Cottage suitable for a King

No strangers to the bed and breakfast experience, my husband and I recently added an excellent inn to our list of favorite places, King’s Cottage Bed and Breakfast. Our stay could not have been more memorable – a historic inn, beautiful room, and welcoming inn keepers.

Owners and seasoned innkeepers, Janis Kutterer and Ann Willets originally hail from different directions of the east coast but found each other and quickly became friends in North Carolina. Twelve years ago, a much needed change prompted Janis and Ann to acquire the King’s Cottage property and since then they have become a leading bed and breakfast in the Lancaster area belonging to multiple organizations including the Select Registry.

With eight rooms, each decorated in a unique royal fashion and equipped with personal fireplaces, guests are sure to find the right fit for their night or nights away. Our room appropriately entitled “The Majestic Chamber” was simply that, majestic. We walked into the room and noticed immediately the large ornately carved king bed, a side table beautifully set for an “in-room” breakfast option, and a warm fireplace. However, the true star of this room was the en suite bathroom where a large double whirlpool tub plus shower awaited us. Ann and Janis quickly let us know this is the “romantic” room often frequented by honeymooners, couples celebrating anniversaries, and those looking for a luxurious night away. This was a first for us, never had we been treated to such luxury and service in an bed and breakfast.

After we took in the majesty of our room, we explored the inn then sat down with Janis and Ann who were more than eager to share their knowledge of the local community, things to do, and places to eat. While we talked, I enjoy a glass of wine and fresh pumpkin pie that the inn keepers made for their guests. We also snuggled with the inn’s resident pet greeter, Sampson. The hospitality and genuine nature of these two ladies makes you feel at home. My husband and I enjoyed learning about their history and that of the inn.

Most people enjoy the room and the local area, but what they really want is a good breakfast and the King’s Cottage does not disappoint. My husband and I were treated to a two-course meal starting with a parfait made with local fruits, Greek yogurt, and granola from a local bakery. However, the star of the meal was the french toast, beautifully constructed with fresh orange, orange liqueur, and topped with pecans and Lancaster maple syrup, it was unlike any french toast I have ever had. Combined with a nice cup of hot tea, we sat in bliss in the dining room and enjoyed the view from the large glass windows while Sampson snuggled at our feet.

Unique to the inn were the small nuances in personalized tea bags, warm coffee mugs, local crafts, and Lancaster chocolates found as you browsed the great living room and covered outdoor patio areas. In addition to these small surprises, Ann and Janis also offer spa packages with a multitude of massages and treatments to choose from.

This inn truly is spectacular and I highly recommend it as a stay for anyone looking for a downtown experience that still remains relaxing and very enjoyable.

The Grand Vineyard at Grandview

I remember the first day I fell in love with wine – October 15, 2011. I was touring Virginia with my husband when we happened upon a multitude of vineyards. Some were 100 acres vineyards, some small wineries, some cultivating grapes planted by Thomas Jefferson, some growing anything but grapes; but all introducing me to this new world of flavors. Back here in Lancaster, I find the vineyards just as unique and The Vineyard at Grandview is no exception.

A recent trip to this family owned and operated 5.5 acres vineyard in Mount Joy was filled with wonderful flavors, eccentric stories, and beautiful views. I was greeted by owner Marilyn Kennel and her daughter, Sarah Haines, who combined with patriarch Larry Kennel, Scott Haines, and Fran and Steve Kratz make up the family staff. Marilyn quickly filled me in on the history of this new vineyard, opening only in 2009. The Vineyard at Grandview has quickly figured out the wine making process utilizing both steel and oak aging techniques. Their motto in running such a small vineyard is to produce quality over quantity, a slogan that has been proved successful by the complete sell-out of each of their wines.

As the tasting room began to fill with guests for the day, Marilyn passed the story telling off to her daughter, Sarah, who was eager to relay the unique family history behind the vineyard and its wine recipes. Sarah regaled stores how her father and wine maker, Larry Kennel’s, background lies not in viniculture but veterinary medicine, however, his passion has kept him constantly attending his vines and searching for local grapes to sustain their new popularity. Familial stories then flowed from Sarah as she introduced me to Grandview’s Heritage” collection consisting of three wines: Mom Kennel’s Blackberry, Pop Umble’s Black Cherry, and a Limited Release Black Jack Cherry. The story goes that matriarch, Grandma Kennel, was a strict and frugal woman of faith who kept the family strong but had a few secrets of her own in journals and recipe books. A particular recipe is now the base for Grandview’s Mom Kennel’s Blackberry wine staying true to “top-shelf” ingredients and avoiding any inferior products. Larry Kennel utilizes this recipe everyday ordering premier blackberries from Oregon and Washington to maintain the sharpness and flavor in Grandview’s specialty fruit wine. Also distinctive to this collection is the Limited Release Black Jack Cherry, a wine aged in Jack Daniels oak barrels, which create flavors not readily found mixed into the wine world.

Once Sarah was done introducing me to the history behind the vineyard, she gave me some insight into their wine collection. Producing mostly red varietals on site such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cab Fran, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdo, and one white, Chardonnay; Grandview has successful mastered sweet, dry, and the obscure fruit wines. While tasting, I experienced an array of flavors from their blended varieties as well as a superb Pinot Noir from their 2013 collection ( a MUST if you stop to taste). Additional offerings at Grandview include a cheese/chocolate pairing for your tasting as well as Rock Candy Spritzers. These spritzers combine the sweet varieties of the Rock Candy Gem Collection with soda and locally made rock candy for a fun presentation and bubbly taste.

Of course, those who read my blog about wine understand I am about the full package. I appreciate great wines and knowledgeable service, but I love a good atmosphere and Grandview does not lack in this department. The atmosphere is relaxing as you enter the open and naturally lit tasting room or exit onto the sprawling outside deck that overlooks the Lancaster landscape and vines. Snacks are welcome by guests and events are frequent as the vineyard partakes in both the Hershey/Harrisburg and Mason Dixon Wine Trails.

The Vineyard at Grandview possess all of the qualities essential to convert the non-believer. The wine, the staff, the location, and the pride in their products shine through leaving little room for the visitor to not fall in love with this wonderful Lancaster vineyard.

Wonderful wine from Waltz

Wine, vino, nectar of the Gods; all phrases used to describe the flawlessly balanced liquid that is squeezed from grapes, fermented, and aged to perfection in oak and steel barrels around the world. Lancaster is no exception. Among the vines of Lancaster County lies a unique vineyard atop a hill called Waltz Vineyard and Estate. This classy vineyard offers all of the picturesque qualities of a sprawling Napa vineyard and the excellence of a Italian winery. Run by Jan and Kimberly Waltz, Waltz Vineyard finds itself lucky enough to grow grapes on internationally renowned soil once used to grow a variety of vegetables and tobacco. Combining science with a love for wine making, this family succeeds in producing both affordable and delicious wine.

One afternoon, my mother and 1777 Americana Inn owner, Denise Harter, accompanied me to the Waltz estate. The family’s home is located on site. The tasting room, located next to the homestead is built like a European tasting room combining new and old world art and architecture. We were welcomed and immediately introduced to the multiple varieties of wine Waltz makes onsite from its 100 tons of produced grapes.

Everyone knows tasting can become repetitive after a few stops, but Waltz approaches the tasting of their products in a unique fashion, wine flights. Not only can you sample five delicious varieties separated into Light/Fruity or Dry/Serious samplers, but you can also add a local cheese pairing specially chosen for your selected flight. While the taste of each flight is wonderful, the real allure of the wine flight is the presentation. Crafted to make you feel like you’re back in science class, the five selected wines are poured into test tubes and placed in front of you in a wooden rack with your tasting menu conveniently placed behind. This presentation is truly a unique and practical experience for those who believe wine tasting to be a monotonous sport.

For those sweet wine lovers, Waltz offers one or two varietals – but please be warned – they reign supreme in the drier Bordeaux style wines. Among our favorites for the day were the 2011 Reserve Chardonnay, 2012 Barred Rock Red, and the 2010 Crows Wood Cabernet. My mother, a lover of the sweet and fruity, enjoyed the 2013 Fusion characterized as a semi-dry white boasting with citrus flavors.

With open farmland to the front and beautiful full vines to side, this estate truly captures the quintessential vino experience. For those not looking for a day spent drinking under the tree or next to the vines with a nice fall picnic, Waltz also sells their products at their bottle shop in downtown Lititz, PA. I highly recommend Waltz as a stop for any wine admirer and for those simply looking to try something new in the Lancaster area.

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