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September is Illinois Wine Month

Updated on February 25, 2016
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer and gardener with extensive knowledge of plants and plant care. Her articles focus on easy-care tips for home gardeners.

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.

Wine Festival Entrance
Wine Festival Entrance | Source

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.

Wine festing is a serious business!  Enough food for a small army!
Wine festing is a serious business! Enough food for a small army! | Source

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

Matthiessen State Park, Utica IL:
Matthiessen State Park, Route 178, North Utica, IL 61373, USA

get directions

14967 Gun Creek Trail Whittington, IL:
14967 Gun Creek Trail, Whittington, IL 62897, USA

get directions

Roselle, IL:
Roselle, IL, USA

get directions

Palestine, IL:
Palestine, IL 62451, USA

get directions

Wine lover on board!
Wine lover on board! | Source
Vintage Illinois Wine Fest tasting glasses and tickets
Vintage Illinois Wine Fest tasting glasses and tickets | Source

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:

  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Artichoke
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Chocolate

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

Wine Type
Common Varieties
Pairs Well With
Dry White
Savignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
Vegetables (Both Raw or Roasted)
Sweet White
Moscato, Riesling
Soft Cheeses like Brie or Camembert
Rich White
Hard Cheses, Starches (Pasta), Fish
Prosecco, Champagne, Sparking wines
Starches, Fish
Light Red
Pinot Noir, Blended Medium Bodied Reds
Roasted Vegetables, Seafood, White Meat, Red Meat
Medium Red
Merlot, Zinfandel, Tempranillo
White Meat, Red Meat
Bold Red
Cabernet Savignon, Syrah, Malbec
Red Meat, Cured Meats (i.e. Hard Salami), Hard Cheese, Starches with Red Sauce
Dessert Wine
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
Illinois River Winery bottles for sale
Illinois River Winery bottles for sale | Source

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:

Berryville Vineyards

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.

Waterman, IL

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.

My take home purchases from the wine festival
My take home purchases from the wine festival | Source

Quick Tips

You can usually find some great deals during the fall months for the activities listed to the left on popular deal sites like and, so check for deals before purchasing your tickets. A little planning in advance goes a long way and saves you money!

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

Fox Creek Vineyards booth #28
Fox Creek Vineyards booth #28 | Source

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!

Hundreds of wine lovers come out every year for Vintage Illinois Wine Fest
Hundreds of wine lovers come out every year for Vintage Illinois Wine Fest | Source

© 2014 Lisa Roppolo


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