Illinois… Wine Country

21 03 2011

This winter I had the pleasure of visiting true Californian wine country.

Now it seems that wine country refers to more and more acres across the whole of the United States, including former corn country-Illinois.

Did you know there is a Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA)? It is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the viticulture and enology interests of Illinois. It provides information (and contests!) among Illinois grape producers and vintners.

Today, Illinois wineries bring in $253 million annually. This profit has encouraged the broke state of Illinois to contribute $550,000 to expand this niche Illinois industry and the awareness thereof.

There are over 70 wineries and 450 vineyards across the state of Illinois, a far cry from just 12 wineries in 1997. The oldest was established in 1857 by Emile Baxter and sons in Nauvoo, Illinois. Today is run by the fifth generation of Baxters. Today the winery is open Baxter’s Vineyards offers free wine tasting & self guided winery tours daily and there is a beautiful Bed and Breakfast across the way.

By 1900, Illinois was the fourth largest wine-producing state in the country. Who would’ve guesse! And here I thought Illinois was all about pumpkin production (and corn, and soybeans….).

If a glass of locally grown and crushed wine interests you (or if you are looking for a day-trip/destination trip for those of you non-Illinoisans) checkout IGGVA’s google map of Illinois wineries.

And if your winery travels carry you to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard this summer to enjoy music-filled summer evenings, you might just see a familiar blogger.





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