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September is Illinois Wine Month
September in Illinois
In 2005, then governor Rod Blagojevich designated the month of September as Illinois Wine Month, which recognizes the Illinois grape and wine industry. September is the time when the Illinois grapes are ready for harvest. It is also the time for several annual wine festivals, grape stomps and special wine tastings, which showcase this state's wine bounty. I can't think of a better way to sample such a wide variety of wines in one location.
A Side Note About Illinois Wines
Illinois grapes have been grown primarily from French grapes that were brought over here by the French during the fur trade and early settlement. These varieties include: Chambourcin, Seyval, Vignoles, Chardonel and Vidal Blanc. There is only one of the existing grape stock that is purely native to the area which is Norton. Each of these grape types produce different flavor profiles when pressed and the profiles can be changed with the addition of other fruits, spices, age time etc.
Many wineries in Illinois will include some fruit wines in their offerings, which take advantage of locally grown berries and tree fruits. If you are into sweeter wines or like to consume dessert wines, I urge you to try an Illinois fruit wine. They can't be beat.
If you like your wines on the drier side, there are plenty of wineries that also include a great variety of dry and semi-dry wines. Semi-sweet wines are plentiful as well.
September & October Wine Festivals and Events
Here is a small sampling of some of the more popular wine events happening throughout the state. Most festivals will allow you to bring in coolers and folding chairs/tables, but no outside alcohol is allowed. Check with the individual festival websites for more information on restrictions. Unless otherwise noted on the website, these events are for people ages 21 and over. Proper photo I.D. is required for entry.
What: Vintage Illinois
Where: Matthiessen State Park Grounds, Utica, IL
When: September 17 & 18, 2016
Over 30 Illinois wineries are featured at this wine festival. The largest wine festival in the state!
What: Illinois Art and Wine Festival at Rend Lake
Where: 14967 Gun Creek Trail, Whittington, IL
When: September 24 & 25, 2016
This is the 15th annual festival featuring 13 Illinois wineries from the Southern Illinois region.
What: Lynfred Winery Oktoberfest
Where: Lynfred Winery, Roselle IL
When: October 1 & 2, 2016
This annual German-styled Oktoberfest features a pig roast, grape stomp and grape seed spitting contests with traditional German fare.
What: Wabash Valley Art & Wine Festival
Where: Palestine, IL
When: October 1 & 2, 2016
This 12th annual wine fest features 15 Illinois wineries from the Southern Illinois region.
Wine Festival Locations
Enjoy Illinois Winery Tourism
- EnjoyIllinois.com | Illinois Wine Country
Visit enjoyillinois.com for fun attractions in Illinois and easy ways to plan a getaway.
Easy Wine Pairing Guide
The below chart is a crash-course for those who are new to wine or those who don't know much about pairing wine with food. For the most part, most food groups are represented here, however the following items can be difficult to pair with any type of wine because of their complex flavor profile:
- Green Beans
- Brussel Sprouts
Experiment with these flavors to find the right wine for you. I find that getting a dessert wine that is flavored with the essence of Chocolate is the best to pair with Chocolate, as well as those dessert wines that feature either Cherry or Strawberry as their main flavor profile.
For the vegetables listed above, white wines are probably your best route.
General Guide to Wine Pairings
Pairs Well With
Savignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
Vegetables (Both Raw or Roasted)
Soft Cheeses like Brie or Camembert
Hard Cheses, Starches (Pasta), Fish
Prosecco, Champagne, Sparking wines
Pinot Noir, Blended Medium Bodied Reds
Roasted Vegetables, Seafood, White Meat, Red Meat
Merlot, Zinfandel, Tempranillo
White Meat, Red Meat
Cabernet Savignon, Syrah, Malbec
Red Meat, Cured Meats (i.e. Hard Salami), Hard Cheese, Starches with Red Sauce
Fruit Wines, Ice Wine, Port
Sweets, Cured Meats
White Zinfandel and other Rose colored wines
Spiced Dishes, Mediterranean Cuisine, White Meat (Chicken and Pork), Seafood
How to Press Your Own Wine Grapes
Lisa's 2014 Illinois Wine Picks
There are so many wines to choose from, the task can get very daunting!
Below are some of my favorite picks from the 2014 Vintage Illinois Wine Festival:
1910 N. Prairieton Rd.
Claremont, IL 62421
Sunlight: A semi-sweet white wine, very light and crisp
Red Top: Semi-sweet red and fruity with smokey notes
319: Semi-dry red, similar to Merlot but with less bite than a typical Merlot
Kite Hill Vineyards
83 Kitehill Rd.
Carbondale, IL 62903
Rose: Rose wine that is dry with hints of grapefruit and watermelon. Very crisp.
Traminette: Semi-dry white wine with hints of citrus and melon.
Sleepy Creek Winery
8254 E. 1425 North Road
Fairmount, IL 61841
Sour Pus: Aromatic citrusy semi-sweet white wine.
Henpecked: Semi-sweet red wine with hints of cherry and grape flavors.
Waterman Winery and Vineyards
11582 Waterman Rd.
Apple: sweet white wine tastes just like apple juice.
Harvest Pumpkin: Sweet white wine flavored with fresh pumpkin and pumpkin spices. Crisp and light compared to other pumpkin wines.
Other Things to do in Illinois in September and October
Illinois has a great and ever-growing Agritourism business that takes advantage of what the state has to offer and what we do best:
- Pumpkin Patches/Farms
- Corn mazes and festivals
- Haunted Houses, haunted barns or Farms (entertainment)
- Historic haunted tours
- Designated Scenic byways to view the changing colors of the leaves
- U-Pick farms for Apple and Pumpkin picking
- Guided fall hikes at state parks
- Hot Air Balloon rides in Galena, IL
- Boo at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo and other children's Halloween themed events
- Neighborhood Oktoberfests
- Native American fall festivals and Pow Wows
Visit my other Hub on Illinois Agritourism!
- Illinois Agritourism
Agritourism is a booming business for Illinois Farmers and Rural Towns.
Thanks for taking the time to visit my Hub!
As you can see, even if you aren't a wine connoisseur, there are plenty of other activities you can engage in on your fall visit to Illinois! I hope you were able to learn a little something about our local wine and about our great Midwestern state!
See my other Hub on Illinois Wine Festivals
- Vintage Illinois: A Journey Through Illinois Wine Making
Illinois has a long history of wine making. Follow the wine making trail throughout the state to find scenic wineries and B&B's on your next visit to our lovely state!
© 2014 Lisa Roppolo