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Conversations with Candice Wenzel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Candice Wenzel.

Candice, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Making elderberry syrup wasn’t what I went to college for, nor is it what I have my degrees in. I was actually an elementary school teacher and reading specialist for twelve years prior to starting the elderberry syrup journey. I absolutely loved my career and found it to be extremely rewarding! But, after dealing with infertility for over six years, my husband and I decided to move forward with IVF to get pregnant. Once I got pregnant, I decided to put teaching on pause and stay at home with Sweet Adeline. Little note – I used to sing “Sweet Caroline” to Adeline while I was pregnant with her. I changed Caroline to Adeline in the lyrics. The song is why I call Adeline “Sweet Adeline.” Anyway, becoming a mother inspired me to lead a holistic/clean life as much as possible, which lead to elderberry syrup. My massage therapist actually first told me about it. I started making it at home and began sharing it with my family and friends. They encouraged me to try and sell at a local farmers’ market I frequented. After asking around, I found out that there were specific permits I needed. I tried to get a Cottage Foods Permit through San Bernardino County, but I was informed that elderberry syrup didn’t qualify and that it must be made in a commercial kitchen. I put a lot of thought into whether or not I wanted to continue pursuing this little dream of mine, and I decided to give it a go – I didn’t want to tell Sweet Adeline about elderberry syrup down the road and tell her that I didn’t pursue getting it into farmers’ markets because it was too much work. She inspired me. Once I did all I needed to do in order to make Sweet Adeline’s Elderberry Company a legitimate company, I went to local stores and farmer’s markets to try and get Sweet Adeline’s Elderberry Syrup on their shelves to share with the residents of Redlands.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
No, it definitely hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Once I found out that elderberry syrup didn’t qualify for a Cottage Foods Permit (that’s a permit that allows you to legally make and sell a product in your home kitchen to the public), I became discouraged. I could hardly believe that it was considered against the law in California to make and sell elderberry syrup in your home and sell it to the public. I even tried to dispute it (kindly). Elderberry syrup isn’t a well-known thing, even though it’s been around for such a long time. My County contact told me that I needed to use a commercial kitchen. I didn’t have any experience using one. Learning the curves of a commercial kitchen was a process. I’m so very grateful for all the people at the commercial kitchen that helped me learn how to use the huge dishwasher, figure out the little tricks to working the stove, etc.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I proudly make Sweet Adeline’s Elderberry Syrup. It’s something that people take to strengthen or support their immune system. I use local, certified organic elderberries from a small family farm in Redlands called Three Sisters Farm (when the elderberries are in season). I also use local raw honey from Colony and Keeper in Redlands. I don’t add honey to the elderberry concoction until it’s cooled below 100 degrees because heating raw honey above that temperature will kill the living enzymes in it. That’s another reason why our elderberry syrup isn’t shelf-stable – if I were to heat it to can it or hot pour it, it would overheat the honey. I use local orange zest from Glencairn Farms and local lemon zest from Friendship Ranch – all of which I get from a local farmers’ market in Redlands. I love using local and love knowing the faces behind the ingredients I use.

I’m so very proud of this baby business! I make every bottle that I sell. I made it a legal business during a pandemic. I handwrite a positive affirmation on each bottle. It’s important to me that I only sell what I would give my family, too. I’m a rule follower when it comes to the health of my customers and I truly love what I do.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
When I was in middle school, my dad and I used to run together in the mornings before school. I didn’t love getting up early, but I did it because every once in a while, my dad would wake me up early and take me to get bagels instead of run. My dad inspired my passion for running, which lead to me competing on my high school and college cross country teams.

Pricing:

  • $19.99 for an 8 ounce bottle

Contact Info:

  • Email: sweetadelineselderberrycompany@gmail.com
  • Website: www.sweetadelineselderberrycompany.com
  • Instagram: Sweet Adeline’s Elderberry Company
  • Facebook: Sweet Adeline’s Elderberry Company


Image Credits:

Cerissa Clem (she took the photos that are just of the elderberry bottle) – the rest of the photos were taken by me

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