When thinking of Illinois, you may think craft breweries and distilleries– but probably not wineries. You have been missing out. To get the full experience you must go beyond just wine tasting Chicago areas– the best experiences are at the actual Illinois wineries.
Alto Vineyards began with a humble 13-acres of land in 1982. Today, that number has increased significantly. Their production amount is now up to 25,000 gallons to meet demand. Their property is gorgeous, and contains a large tasting room with a rooftop patio looking over the vineyard. They hold multiple festivals annually, and regular events, which are growing in popularity. Although, their wine is enough to make the trek to Alto.
8515 Highway 127 4210 N Duncan Road
Alto Pass, IL 62905 Champaign, IL 61822
(618) 893-4898 (217) 356-4784
Blue Sky Vineyard
Blue Sky Vineyard aimed to turn a plot of land in Southern Illinois into a slice of Italy. Blue Sky is an all around experience that extends beyond wine. Their venue boasts a tasting room that also serves beer and non-alcoholic drinks. Your palate will be quench, and so will your stomach. Their respectable menu contains a variety of wholesome options. The best way to experience Blue Sky Vineyard is to explore the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail– end your hike in their tasting room with some food, then move out to the patio for live music, and finally ending the night with a bottle of wine in your own suite. How about that?
3150 South Rocky Comfort Rd
Makanda, IL 62958
(618) 995-WINE (9463)
Famous Fossil Vineyard & Winery
In 2004 Famous Fossil Vineyard & Winery broke ground. Their name derives from the many fossils that were discovered while their vineyard was taking shape. They pride themselves in creating wine using their 12-varieties of grapes. They do outsource from other Illinois when necessary, but keeping it local is key to their vision. Most of those grapes come from vineyards within 25-miles of them. Their ‘cold-climate’ wines are something that is not really found in many parts of the world– they are unique to this portion of the United States. In addition to wine, you they have food to compliment and add to the experience. They have a meat and cheese tray available every day– it is filled with local cheeses, sausage, crackers, fruit and their Famous Fossil fudge.
395 W Cedarville Rd
Freeport, IL 61032
Galena Wine Cellars Vineyard
Galena Wine Cellars Vineyard is one of the larger Illinois wineries. They produce over 40 varieties of wine– this equals out to 60,000 gallons annually. They have been making wine in Galena since 1985, but have been perfecting their art since 1976. Their Galena vineyard produces 22-different grapes, which is why they can produce so many varieties of wine. They offer tours of their establishment to anyone that wants to dive deeper into their wine heritage and the process in general. They have events and live music happening regularly– the season blowout being the Fall Harvest & Art Festival. They also have a Wine Lovers’ Weekends, which pair wine, food, and tours. Aside from their vineyard, they have multiple tasting rooms for convenience.
4746 N Ford Road 515 South Main Street Dodson Place 477 South 3rd Street
Galena, IL 61036 Galena, IL 61036 Geneva, IL 60134
(815) 777-3235 (815) 777-3330 (630) 232-WINE (9463)
Hidden Lake Winery
Hidden Lake Winery is an escape into a realm that you would not expect in Illinois. It is located in the Silent Forest, a very heavily wooded area known for wildlife and flora. It feels like an extravagant nature retreat that is topped off with wine. Perfect. They established in 2004, and do not appear to be going anywhere. The grapes are sourced on the property from Zuckerbach vineyard– once operated by the winery owner’s father. Being that this place is so gorgeous, they want you to stay as long as you please. They have wooden cabins on property that fit with the surroundings– the fireplace and jacuzzi tub are perfect amenities. They have live music regularly, food specials, and festivals. For your next getaway, look no further.
10580 County Road 400 E
Aviston, IL 62216
Lynfred Winery is the oldest of Illinois wineries.
The founder, Fred E. Koehler, is said to be the father of Illinois’ wine industry. His father and grandfather were making wine in the 1920’s– he took on his first batch in 1975 and launched Lynfred Winery in 1979. He was the one that fought to get Illinois wine laws changed in favor of the industry, as well as convince California vineyards to ship their grapes half way across the nation (before vineyards began popping up in the state). The winery has since expanded to two locations, with two tasting rooms to compliment. Their phenomenal wine is paired with food in the form of actual pairing dinners, wine trays, and various other forms of cuisine. On top of their flavor, their wineries and tasting rooms are worth
visiting for the history alone.
15 S Roselle Rd 971 N Milwaukee Ave 127 W Front St 21 W Jefferson Ave Ste 101
Roselle, IL Wheeling, IL Wheaton, IL Naperville, IL
(630) 529-9463 (847) 229-9463 (630) 752-9463 (630) 420-9463
Mackinaw Valley Vineyard
Mackinaw Valley Vineyard is a place to spend the entire day. The property boasts 86-acres– 15 of which is a dedicated vineyard. Paths meander through the property, making it a perfect place to stroll and converse. Various outdoor patios make for relaxing rest areas to take in the fantastic view as you are situated on top of a valley. They have over 20-wines to taste, these creations have come from 10-years in the industry. They host concerts, festivals, trivia, murder mystery dinners, and more. They truly aim to make each visit to their vineyard a special experience.
33633 State Rt 9
Mackinaw, IL 61755
(309) 359-WINE (9463)
Mary Michelle Winery
Mary Michelle Winery was began with history in mind. The soil in Illinois is capable of nourishing fine produce– a winery only made sense. In 1999 the first vine was planted, in 2003 the winery was completed, and in 2005 the first bottles were available to purchase. The establishment now has a 100-acre vineyard to utilize. The winery is located in the Pere Marquette Lodge, which also serves as the tasting room. The patio overlooks the river, the fireplace adds to the overall mood, and the stars are in abundance. The lodge provides a full restaurant for your disposal, as well as well furbished rooms so you do not have to cut your stay short. It is located in the 8,000-acre Pere Marquette State Park, which guarantees beauty.
RR 2 Box 207
Carrollton, IL 62016
Prairie State Winery
Prairie State Winery began as a humble store, in 1998, that just wanted to focus on selling quality Illinois-made goods. The business struck a nerve, not in a bad way, and in 1999 Prairie State Winery came to fruition. Since then, they have expanded from a modest 500-gallons to nearly 13,000-gallons of wine production per year. Their Friday Night Wine Downs are worth finding their way onto your schedule. Live music sets the mood, while the food is your call. It it a bring-your-own-food event. If you do not feel like packing a dinner or snack– they have menus from various local restaurants that will be sure to suit you.
222 W. Main Street 322 West State Street
Genoa, Illinois 60135 Sycamore, Illinois
(815) 784-4540 (815) 991-5266
Rustle Hill Winery
Rustle Hill Winery is quickly becoming much more than just a winery. Aside from the 7-wines that they have waiting for you, they are an entertainment haven. There have 3-bandstands that house bands multiple times a week– bands range from local to travelers. The art that is found around the premise are works from artists, which rotate on a monthly basis to help promote new artists in the area. This is also accompanied by a monthly art show. For more than just a wine-tasting, visit Rustle Hill Winery.
8595 New Highway 51 N.
Cobden, IL 62920
Tuscan Hills Winery
Tuscan Hills Winery has been standing by their viewpoint of, Tuscan Hills isn’t just about the wine; it’s about the experience, since they opened in 2011. The winery doubles as an avenue for parties, weekly concerts, and conversation. Their focus is wine, but they do offer an assortment of other alcohol, as well as specialized food to complete the experience. The name derives from the feeling that comes when you visit– a feeling that you have stepped into old-world Tuscany. With daily specials to accompany entertainment, it gives you all the more reason to continue visiting.
2200 Historic Hills Drive
Effingham, IL, 62401
Walker’s Bluff Winery
Walker’s Bluff Winery cannot be summed up by the word winery alone– the options here are extensive. It begins by being located on gorgeous grounds, with plenty of area to explore. The Gazebo area provides a place to relax, listen to live music, children’s activities, as well as easy access to the river– which is stocked with fish, bring your pole. Their general store is great for gifts, or snag something for yourself, it is okay. It also contains a deli and bakery to assure the highest quality of quick bites. It does not stop there. They have a gourmet restaurant that is unbelievable. Kobe Beef and daily-flown-in Seattle seafood are just a couple of the options. The tasting room is exquisite and roomy. Time flies by when lounging in here. Their Wine Cave is another area to explore and taste. It is literally a tunnel system that leads to a circular cave, containing a large circular table. Wine just tastes better in here. The Depot rounds out their property. It is a huge covered-pavilion that is perfect for gatherings. Their expansion has already began– be on the lookout for even greater offerings.
Walker’s Bluff Winery is truly a caliber of its own.
326 Vermont Rd
Carterville, IL 62918
Walnut Street Winery
Walnut Street Winery takes a different approach than many Illinois wineries. They do not focus on producing wine with only local grapes, they seek out the best possible grapes that they can for each specific type of wine that they produce– that may be from Washington, California, Italy, France, Australia, or a handful of other countries. Their focus is to create their finest wine possible, with the finest grapes. Their wine garden features a large bocce ball court, as well as a relaxing place to lounge. They offer various types of Wisconsin cheese, as well as the always satisfying Isabell’s Pizza.
309 S Walnut St
Rochester, IL 62563
Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is one of the best ways to experience a handful of Illinois wineries. It combines the amazing venues of the wineries and vineyards, with a fantastic scenic drive. Along the trail are 12 award-winning wineries, some mentioned in this article already. The drive consists of 25-miles on highway 127 and highway 51. The scenery is attributed to the fact that you are traveling through the Shawnee National Forest. There are plenty of places to stop in-between to explore, hike, eat, relax, or stay. Making your way along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is a perfect way to escape.