From the moment you walk through the doors of AMO Wines, passing under its heart-shaped window, you’re struck with the sensations of comfort and a warm embrace.
Relaxing music is playing while elegant scents flow through the air. Visually, you’re greeted by the sight of a lounge with luxurious, blue velvet seating.
“We want people to feel the love in AMO, we want them to feel that hug — and it does feel like a hug in here,” Tara Colaneri, AMO Wines’ co-owner, told The Lake Report.
In opening her own, first-ever business, Colaneri’s goal was to create an ambience of love for every guest who visits.
AMO’s “mascot,” a gold statue named Fred, greets guests with love as soon as they enter.
“We say he drank our 24K wine and turned gold,” Colaneri said. “He’s looking for true love so whoever takes a photo with him or pretends to kiss him, if they take the spell off then that was true love.”
“Obviously, he is still gold so he hasn’t found it quite yet,” she joked.
Last June, Colaneri, along with her brother Michael, opened the doors to Niagara-on-the-Lake’s newest winery, fittingly named after the Latin word for love.
“A is for my mom’s name: she passed away in 2009 and her name is Angie. The M is Mike, my father and the O is for myself and my brother, the offspring,” she said.
“They are the two people who taught us to love life,” she said of her parents. “It’s not about two people, it’s about loving life.”
Every detail of AMO’s aesthetic — including the wine bottles and the throw pillows on lounge couches — has been tended to and curated with affection and precision.
Colaneri and general manager Tony Milana showed The Lake Report some of the highly stylized wine bottles available at AMO.
Each bottle’s unique label has to be hand-applied by staff due to the delicate nature of the design and square bottle shape, she said.
“It’s a little extra effort but a whole lot of love,” Colaneri said.
Many customers often choose to repurpose the bottles after finishing their wine, Milana added, as water bottles, olive oil bottles, table decor and more.
When it comes down to it, such intense attention to detail is a product of family love, said Colaneri.
“We all worked together, my sister-in-law and I worked on the aesthetics. My brother and my dad were the construction guys,” she said.
“We made everything look pretty and my dad and my brother made sure it worked.”
Colaneri took influences from places such as Las Vegas to put together a venue that was more than just a winery — but an immersive experience.
“It’s not driven only to female customers, we’ve got something for everybody’s taste,” she said. “That’s why we brought in some of the leathers. It’s a little bit of everything for everyone.”
The theme of love is everywhere inside the winery. Not just romantic love, but love as an action word.
Before the Colaneri siblings opened the winery’s doors last June, they launched the AMO brand on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, three years ago.
To celebrate the month of love, the winery has partnered with The Lake Report to offer an extra-special experience.
Throughout February, anyone who submits a love letter to “The Love Report” may bring proof of their submission to AMO Wines to redeem a complimentary tasting flight.
Colaneri said love notes can be simple and still capture the feeling of affection.
“Like yesterday, I wrote to my father and said, ‘Sorry Dad for giving you all the grey hair. Love you, hope I don’t give you any more in the coming years.’ It’s the little things like that,” she said.
Throughout February, AMO will also allow guests to write love messages on their glass cellar doors for everyone to see in a beautiful gold colour.
Every weekday of the month, AMO will be offering 2-for-1 flights of wine. On Sundays, it will be doing complimentary six hors d’oeuvres with the purchase of two flights.
Colaneri highlighted special gifts available for those “last-minute gentlemen,” which feature a box of fresh roses, a bottle of wine and a handmade ring from Barnhouse Jewelry, available for pre-order.
AMO Wines is located at 976 York Rd. Reservations are recommended on weekends but walk-ins are always welcome.