Family Stories

How Our Winery Came to Be

In the fall of 2000, we realized we needed a way to attract customers to the Inn for the offseason. Doniella Winchell suggested we start a winery, as Karen and I enjoy wine. After some thought, we decided we would give it a run, and at the time, we were winery number ten in Northeast Ohio.

We built a cellar under the beach house during the winter, and in the fall of 2001, we made our first vintage of wine from locally sourced vinifera grapes. We served wine only to guests staying with us, and in the winter months, we would do wine and food pairing dinners with our wines and other locally made and sourced wines. Also, we would do winery tours to some of the wineries to showcase the quality wines being made in the region.

In 2007, we terraced the backyard and that really attracted people to the lake; thus began the real growth for us as a wine producer. In 2012, we built a new restaurant on the property and concentrated on using locally sourced vegetables and meats. This allowed us to feature our vinifera wines paired with foods and help create a great dining experience for our guests.

We believe wine is a food and should be paired with food to unveil the flavors of both.

– Sam, the Wine Maker

The Story Behind Our Beautiful Patios

My husband, Lance, and I first met at The Lakehouse Inn. He spent many weekends working alongside me, and four years later, in the exact same location, Lance asked me to marry him. The Lakehouse Inn played a huge part in the first four years of our relationship, so it seemed fitting for us to have our wedding on the property. We got engaged on New Years’ Eve of 2006, and a few weeks later, while I was doing some planning, I asked my dad if he could build benches to put in the grassy area down the hillside, so we could have the ceremony on the lakefront. If you know my dad, he doesn’t do anything halfway and my idea for benches turned into a complete renovation of the yard. That spring the lower wooden decks were converted to a stone patio, gardens were planted down the hillside and an additional stone patio was built at the top of the hill, along with a stone walkway to the lower patio.

Our wedding took place on September 15, 2007. There was a North wind directly off of the lake and the temperature was a brisk 55 degrees-the coldest day since mid-May! Our ceremony was on the lower patio and the reception was held under a tent in the yard. It was so cold that our guests wore winter coats and my bridal party & I wore long sleeve white shirts and white puffer vests over our dresses. And while we had to alter some of our plans because of the weather, we ended the night with an amazing Lake Erie sunset!

– Andrea

How We Came to Own The Lakehouse Inn

The year was 1998, Andrea was in her 3rd year of College at Ohio Wesleyan in Columbus, and Nate just left for Vermont to attend Vermont Tech for 2 years. Sam and Karen decided to start looking for a house on Lake Erie. We looked at every lakefront property from the Lake County line to the PA line. We put offers on at least 6 properties which were all rejected over the next year or so. We then instructed our realtor to start looking for a duplex or cottages for Andrea and Nate since they would both be returning to Geneva in May 2000. Interestingly, in February 2000 we were notified that The old Otto Court at GOTL was on the market. Sam, Karen, and Nate went to take a look. They called Andrea, told her about it. She immediately stated she could run it rather than working at Fagnilli’s Automotive. All four family members saw great potential for the property. It just made better sense to purchase a revenue-generating lakefront property for a similar price tag of the private homes along the lakeshore. Fast Forward to Saturday, May 13, 2000-Sam & Karen were in Vermont for Nate’s graduation and flew to Columbus on Mother’s Day for Andrea’s graduation. Monday, May 15th they became the new owners of The Lakehouse Inn. Andrea was “home” by Wednesday the 17th (Sam’s birthday) and the rest is history.