Wineries in Southern Illinois
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway
This quote is very apt for the wineries in Southern Illinois as they have grown and perfected the local wines to become some of the best wines in America. Wine growing was just a local hobby for the region till the word spread and today they continue to win wine competitions at the Illinois State Fair wine competitions and score gold, silver and bronze.
If you like great wine, empty country roads, humming rivers and the quiet beauty that runs through the region that also has the Shawnee National Forest then come to the wineries in Southern Illinois to spend time in the many family owned wineries. You could sip the finest the region has to offer as you watch the sun go down, which is almost as spectacular as the wine.
The region’s wine making progress does stretch too far into the annals of history. In fact it was only as recent as 1987 that wine began to be taken really seriously. This was when the first wineries in Southern Illinois began to produce wine on a large scale from top-quality French-American grapes. Today people cannot wait to come here to try the best dry, barrel-aged wines, lighter sweet wines, and delicious dessert wines made from grapes and apples grown in numerous family owned vineyards that score the area.
If you have wanted to experience a wine country getaway then come to Southern Illinois in September. September is the grape harvest season and the month is filled with all kinds of wine festivals and harvest festivals organized by some of the finest wineries in Southern Illinois. You could also visit the family owned wineries that are close to the Shawnee National Forest and that make up the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Sip wine sitting in villa style wineries or from barns or take a picnic basket and drink the best wines sitting by the Hidden Lake. You could also watch how the wines are used in cooking some of the best tasting foods in the area.
Today Southern Illinois has about 100 vineyards and they produce many varieties of wine and as the region matures into a fine wine growing area the wine produced here only becomes better. Wineries in Southern Illinois, in the Shawnee Hills region, have the distinction of being recognized as a fine wine growing area and has received the American Viticultural Area (AVA) recognized by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. This is indeed a great accomplishment especially as wine growing in the region is barely 30 years old from the time when they first began to label their wine. The wineries all have their own distinct styles and the wineries craft a splendid mix of sweet and dry varieties.