From working as a training director for a property management company to becoming an entrepreneur and the owner of Soiree Wine Jelly, to say that Tarpon Springs' Amber Grinovich is ambitious would be an understatement.
Grinovich, 43, is originally from the east coast of the Sunshine State. Business brought her to the west coast, where she felt more at ease.
"It just felt more like home," Grinovich said of her visits to this side of Florida.
Four years ago, Grinovich returned to work after being a stay-at-home mom for her then-new additions to the family.
It wasn't long after that when she lost her job because the property she was overseeing had been sold.
Searching for a new adventure, Grinovich remembered a gift she had received two years prior from her mother-in-law. The red wine jelly was homemade and had left an undeniable impression.
"I couldn't believe how delicious it was," Grinovich recalled. "It tasted exactly like a really good glass of red wine."
From then on, Grinovich would make the recipe for parties, gifts and everyday use. After a while, the business side of her brain took the wheel.
The Jelly-Full Journey of Discovery
Since she had no prior knowledge of the art, research and trial and error led Grinovich to find her own way in the jelly world.
From chardonnay to pinot noir, the experiments were anything but boring. Eventually, fruits were thrown into the mix for added flavor.
Although Grinovich said that she is not a wine connoisseur, there is a certain level of expertise that gave her the upper hand during her pilot run with jelly wine creations.
"I'm a wine lover," Griovich said. "When I was younger, I worked in a restaurant and I was introduced to a lot of fine wines."
The jelly starts off as a liquid, which includes the wine and other ingredients. Sugar plays a crucial role in jelly production, but for Grinovich, the wine is the key. It is then cooked, jarred and refrigerated to perfection.
How Making Wine Jelly Turned Into a Business
Last year, Grinovich signed up as a vendor at an arts and crafts festival on the sponge docks.
The move was risky, considering she was unemployed and unsure of the demand for her new product. Nevertheless, Grinovich was determined to find her way as a business owner.
"I was very confident that it would go well," Grinovich said.
The show was a success. In fact, it went so well that Grinovich had to consider a new packaging method. Her handwritten labels would no longer cut it, considering the multitude of purchases that had been made.
Grinovich called 2011 her "test run year" and added that things are picking up fast. With an online presence in the works and orders coming in from around the state, she is staying busy in the best way possible.
"Right now, I'm having a growth spurt for sure," she said.
She has participated in a number of markets and festivals around Pinellas County and the state showcasing Soiree Wine Jelly. The response has been positive.
Now, the goal is to get the jelly into a number of storefronts so that Grinovich can get back to what she said is the most important thing in her life: her family.
What Does Soiree Wine Jelly Offer?
The current list of flavors includes:
- pinot grigio pear
- orange chardonnay
- herbes de provence chablis
- white zinfandel
- pomegranate pinot noir
- red wine pepper
Grinovich has also released a cocktail line that includes flavors like pina colada, strawberry daiquiri and margarita.
Three new flavors made their debut last week as well: chocolate cabernet for the wine jelly line and scotch apple cider and cherry amaretto for the cocktail line.
Although Grinovich said that most of her customers use the jelly for cooking, she is working on a cheese pairing menu that will be up on her website soon.
What the Future Holds
As Grinovich continues to grow in her business, she hasn't ruled out other options like having a storefront and expanding.
"I would love to have a space in Tarpon Springs, but right now I'm just going one day at a time," said Grinovich.