Southern Illinois: a Wine Lovers Paradise?

More and more people are finding that wonderful wine can be found right here in southern Illinois. Shawnee Hills Wine Trail vineyards is fast becoming the Napa Valley of America’s Heartland. Beautiful at all times of the year, during harvest season the vines are fragrant with ripe grapes and soon the wine trails blaze with color. Visitors flock to the region for the wide variety of attractions that pull them toward the middle of the country.

Our Wines

The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail vineyards are not only full of fruit, but of crews rushing to gather  the small ripe treasures at their peak, while the presses squeeze the maximum sweetness from each little globe. The resulting wines are plentiful and varied. The grapes that produce the whites — like Niagara, Vidal and Seyval — ripen first; then the reds fully ripen to present the rich flavors of Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Norton.

Not by Wine Alone

Travelers, including an employment attorney or two, come from all over the country to taste our wines and to experience the many other pleasures the Shawnee Wine Trail offers. The trail is now dotted with charming Bed and Breakfasts, lovely restaurants, specialty shops, art galleries, spas offering relaxing massages, and a nearly endless array of paths for hiking, climbing, and biking. During the autumn, weekend concerts abound. We hold many special events. This summer (2017), there were special festivities planned for those who visited around the time of the full solar eclipse.

Our History

During the summer of 1995, the first three wineries in Southern Illinois — Alto Vineyards, Owl Creek Vineyard, and Pomona Winery — came to an important decision: there was a potential for extensive tourism right in their midst. They joined forces with the Carbondale Convention & Tourism Bureau and the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau to create the first wine trail in the state of Illinois: the now famous Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Just over two decades later, our B&Bs are filled to capacity year-round — individuals and groups making their reservations long in advance. Our current 11 wineries and participating associate members are proud of the excitement, relaxation, and delight we provide for our guests and of our recent designation as the new American Viticultural Area (AVA).

How Our Wines Are Made

In order to make quality wines, you must have high quality, well-cultivated grapes that are harvested just as they become perfectly ripened. Our grapes are picked by hand, put through a machine that de-stems them and crushes them. Yeasts are added to the resulting juice to begin the process of fermentation. The grapes’ natural sugar, which has been converted into alcohol and CO2 by the yeasts, must ferment at carefully controlled temperatures for about 3 weeks. Once fermentation is complete, the wine is aged either in oak barrels, or steel tanks. The wines stored in oak barrels will slowly absorb smoky, vanilla, and fruity characteristics; those stored in steel tanks have their natural flavors enhanced. Once wine has been fined (had its bitterness removed) and perfectly filtered, it is bottled and left to age. Depending on the type of wine, aging can take from 6 months to 2 years.

The Proof Is in the Pudding

When you visit the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, remember to fully enjoy the main attraction by savoring our remarkable wines. First swirl the wine in your glass to release its aroma, then sniff its intoxicating aroma. Finally sip a small amount to make subtle contact with your taste buds. We guarantee you’ll remember what drew you here in the first place.

If you would like to learn how to make wine like they do in the wine capital of the world (Southern Illinois) then please watch this video!

What Is the Belleville Philharmonic Society?

Belleville, Illinois is very proud of its Philharmonic Society and has every right to be. Founded by a musical group of local citizens in 1866, The Belleville Philharmonic Society is the second oldest continuously performing orchestra in the United States. In addition to its longevity, the Philharmonic Society boasts of its three ensembles: an orchestra, a chorale, and a youth orchestra. The current conductors are Robert Hart Baker for the orchestra and chorale, and Leon Burke III for the youth orchestra. The first conductor of The Belleville Philharmonic Society was Theodore Decker, who directed a group of gifted veterans, many of whom had been classically trained as musicians in Germany.

Keeping Culture Alive in the Community

Since its inception, The Philharmonic Society of Belleville has supported the arts in a number of ways, often partnering with the city in which it makes its home, the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, and a devoted group known as Belleville Main Street. The Philharmonic Society of Belleville is a not-for-profit organization. Having committed itself to supporting the arts in the greater Belleville community, it provides delight to audiences and musicians alike.

Performing regularly during its September to April season, The Philharmonic has an important place in the town’s heart — both as a creative outlet and a source of elegant entertainment. During the century and a half of its active existence, The Belleville Philharmonic Society has established a strong bond not only with the city of Belleville, but with all of St. Clair County, regularly performing for civic events and for the requisite Christmas holiday concerts, including, of course, a command performance of “The Nutcracker Suite.”

Competitive as well as Charming

Far from being only a quaint, nostalgic continuation of Midwestern history, the Belleville Philharmonic Society keeps its population on its musical toes by hosting two concerto competitions each spring for young musicians throughout the area.

Young people up to college age are eligible to participate in the “Stars of Tomorrow” contest. The winners of this contest earn the honor of performing with the Belleville Philharmonic during its October concert. In addition, the Youth Orchestra runs its own contest, The Tuerck Memorial Concerto Competition, named in honor of George Tuerck, the Youth Orchestra’s founder. The Tuerck competition is open to those who are high school juniors or younger; the winners receive honorary scholarships and get to play with the Youth Orchestra during its winter concert.

What is the Gustave Koerner House?

The Gustave Koerner House in Belleville, Illinois, has both a proud and heartbreaking history.

Gustave Koerner, a former Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, first built his house in 1849. Originally an imposing Greek Revival structure, it had to be rebuilt in 1854 after a disastrous fire. We tend to forget how devastating even small fires could be before water to extinguish them became readily available. As Koerner himself wrote in his memoirs in 1909: “the smoke was stifling; but if we had had a few more buckets, we could have extinguished the fire.”

The House and the Man

The imposing structure, located at the main entrance to Belleville’s National Historic District, is valued, even now in its decrepitude, as an historic landmark. In its prime, it reflected well on its owner, who is remembered as a learned man of fine character, an intellectual and a statesman. While a student in Kentucky, he became acquainted with Mary Todd Lincoln. Later, Koerner became a Supreme Court Justice in Illinois before whom Abraham Lincoln practiced in the 1840s.

From 1853 to 1854, Koerner served as Lieutenant Governor of Illinois under Governor. Joel Matteson. Though  well-respected, Gustave Koerner was never seriously considered for the position of governor for two reasons: [1] he was a German immigrant and [2] he opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, believing that it was a means of extending slavery, a practice he strongly opposed, along with suing municipalities.

The Greek Revival style of architecture manifest in the Gustave Koerner House was a popular structural form at the time it was built, so common that it was referred to as the “National Style.” In many ways its style befitted that of its owner. Its strong foundations and substantial size were well-suited to a man of Koerner’s political and judicial stature; its simplicity and lack of elaborate adornment spoke of his humility and modesty. As testament to Gustave Koerner’s strength of character and fortitude, he began the project of rebuilding his beloved homestead nearly as soon as the flames of the great fire were extinguished. A lithograph created by a fine mid-19th Century artist named Schrader is a magnificent record of the house as it appeared circa 1868.

The Gustave Koerner House Is a Piece of Our History

Gustave Koerner lived in house for 47 years, during which time it served not only as his family home, but also as a site for social and political events. Sadly, after his death in 1896, the structure was badly neglected and vandalized for decades. In the 1920s it was converted into low-cost rental units and then became a rooming house for the elderly around 1970. In 1984, it was subdivided into individual rental units again. Though the years have not been kind to the structure — as evidenced by its crumbling masonry, damaged roof, destroyed chimneys and peeling paint — some formidable aspects of the original structure remain intact. Stone lintels, a full front door,a window sash, handsome mantelpieces, and even an elegant open staircase remind us of its glorious past.

Here are 5 facts about the Gustave Koerner House:

Discover The Saline County State Fish And Wildlife Area

Located in the Southern part of Illinois you will find the beautiful Saline County State Fish and Wildlife Area. The problem is not many people know about this hidden gem of a location and this often means they tend to avoid the place and this makes it one of those secluded type of areas as well for people to enjoy. So what exactly can you do at the wildlife area and what just how large is the wildlife area?

Well, let’s answer the second question first. That answer is this park is relatively large in relation to some of the areas that people are able to visit. The wildlife area itself covers a total of one thousand two hundred and seventy acres! So as you can see this is a rather large area and it is one continuous piece of land, which is what makes this spot even more special for the animals and the visitors.

Now as to what all is available for you to do when you are at Saline County State Fish and Wildlife Area is a complete surprise for people. The region offers some world class hunting, but it also has a wide range of fishing options available as well. As far as boating, it is allowed on the lake as long as your motor is under ten horsepower.

If the hunting or fishing is not what you are looking for, then you will enjoy the beautiful trails in the park for you to hike on. However, if you are finding it is starting to get on in the day, then you may want to consider camping at the large campground. Camping does not have any type of electric, but if you do not mind roughing it, the campground is beautiful.

Horseshoe Lake State Fish And Wildlife Area

First and foremost, Merry Christmas to everyone in Illinois and beyond!

The Horseshoe Lake State Fish And Wildlife Area consists of an impressive 10,200 acres of land. The most significant feature of course being the lake that was constructed in 1920 boasting a 20 mile shoreline and a consistent depth of 4 foot. The lake takes up 2,400 acres of the entire 10,200 area.

Picnics and camping are favorite activities in the area and pets on leashes are welcome. Picnic sites consist of seating and table areas, park stoves as well as playgrounds for the kids. There are over 80 camping sites ranging in different class categories from A (which includes electricity and showers) all the way through to class E sites. These grounds are diverse to allow all types of people to have fun, from a long term care planning attorney Staten Island to an experienced camper.

Certain sections of the area are considered to be refuges for wildlife and especially waterfowl. Horseshoe Lake and Horseshoe Island are included in these protected regions. However, hunting is allowed in some areas especially focused to control the waterfowl population. It is best to contact the Horseshoe Lake State Fish And Wildlife staff in order to determine the requirements for hunting.

Apart from the exquisite lake, the natural flora and scenery in the area are simply exquisite. A wide range of other activities are also available throughout the year such as boating and fishing. Different programs are also presented during the year. Inquiries can be made as to the type of activities and programs during specific seasons or times.

Fishing is unfortunately restricted or limited due to the park being a sanctuary and as this is the main source of food for much of the waterfowl and other bird life that are resident in the area. Contact the park to find out more about receiving permission to fish.

Although the area is open to the public, it is also used for research and education purposes.

Will you be like the uploader of this video and come to Horseshoe Lake with a Kayak when the weather clears up? Let us know!

Who Are The Southern Illinois Edwardsville Cougars?

SIU Edwardsville is a part of the Southern Illinois University System. The university is located in Edwardsville, IL which is about 20 miles outside St. Louis, MO. The university first opened in 1957 in answer to a growing need for a four-year college in the Illinois Metro East area. The current campus opened in 1965 and features a College of Arts and Sciences and Schools of Education, Business, and Science and Technology. There are also Schools of Nursing, Engineering, Pharmacy, and Dentistry.

The SIU Edwardsville Cougars represent the athletic teams for the university. They compete in Division I of the NCAA and are a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. Eddie the Cougar #57 is the SIUE mascot and the team colors are red and white.

SIUE has eight women’s and eight men’s teams that are NCAA-sanctioned. SIUE men’s soccer is part of the Mid-American Conference as an affiliate member and wrestling will move to the Mid-American Conference in 2018. The university has baseball, both men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, track and field, golf, men and women’s soccer, softball, volleyball, tennis, and wrestling teams. SIUE Cougar teams have won 17 NCAA national championships in 5 sports.

The school’s athletic facilities are impressive. The Vadalabene Center (VC), named after Sam Vadalabene, a state senator is the center of SIUE Cougar athletics. The center seats more than 4,000 fans and is home to many of the universities athletic facilities.

Lukas Athletics Annex opened in 2012 and houses all offices for the athletics department. The VC is also home to the university’s School of Education’s Departments of Health Education and Kinesiology.

In 1994, Bob Guelker Field and Korte Stadium opened and currently serve the women and men’s track and field and soccer teams. Cougar baseball takes place at Simmons Baseball Complex and Cougar Field is home to the university’s softball team.

Who Are the South Illinois Salukis? Here’s Your Ultimate Guide

If you have heard about the South Illinois Salukis but you aren’t quite sure what the story is all about, then this guide is going to give you the key facts you’re looking for. So, without any delay, let’s explore who the South Illinois Salukis are.

Simply put, the South Illinois Salukis is the name given to the varsity athletic teams which proudly represent the Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Though they are athletes today, many go on to have successful careers in other professions, like working in Georgia as a Marietta truck accident attorney.

Of course, the name may seem a little unusual at first glance, but it is actually a nickname that it has earned due to the fact that Southern Illinois has been nicknamed as a little Egypt over the last couple of centuries. So, when you understand that Saluki is the name of the Persian Greyhound that’s also the Royal dog of Egypt, it all becomes much clearer indeed!

Just as you’d expect, the varsity athletic teams cover a broad range of sporting activities, and this also includes teams of both genders. In general, they have a baseball team, a basketball team, cross country, football, swimming, track and field, and even golf, all of which proudly represent the South Illinois Salukis.

The women’s teams cover many of the same sports, but with the addition of volleyball and college softball rather than baseball. Interestingly, the varsity teams have access to some very impressive grounds, with the new 15,000 seat stadium dedicated to their team’s sporting activities and competitions. There is also a respectable arena where you will find the basketball games.

Overall, the Southern Illinois Salukis have displayed some impressive skills over the years, and the collection of eight men’s varsity teams and eight women’s varsity teams often put on excellent performances that are well worth catching if you are ever in the area and have the opportunity to do so.

The Salukis have a great football team, as evidenced in this video:

Who Are The Southern Illinois Miners?

Based out of Marion, Illinois, the Miners are a popular local baseball team that are a part of the independent Frontier League. They are considered a professional team, though some would call them semi-professional, and are independent of Major League baseball as well as the AAA, AA, and single A minor league system. The Miners play in the West Division of the league.

Popular Local Team
Marion had hosted a professional team once before, but over half a century ago all the way back in 1948. The love for baseball has never faded, however, and the formation of the Miners in 2007 was the town’s solution as they joined the Frontier League after being rejected by the Midwest League.

The Miners call Rent One Park home, and since their inauguration have quickly become remarkable competitive. In their first year they set a Frontier League record for average fans per game, and just a year later in 2008 would make their first play-off appearance as they broke their own attendance record.

Very Competitive Team
The 2010 season would see them getting the best record in the league (64-32) which also includes a remarkable 20 game winning streak, a league record. They would win their first play-off series but lose later on, leaving the pursuit of a championship as a goal that is still on the table.

However just two years later the Miners would bring home the championship to the always loyal local fans. This is following years of massive success that would lead to frustrating defeats in the play-offs, and capped off a very nice story of a small Illinois community that loved professional baseball and once again wanted a team that they could call their own.

With this type of support, there is little doubt that the Miners will continue to thrive and stay active in Marion.

South Shore State Park Location Details and Fun Attractions

South Shore State Park is located on a 26,000 acres land in Clinton County, Illinois, U.S. It is located on land that is leased by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and contains part of the shoreline of Carlyle Lake, the biggest man made reservoir in the state.

Managed to preserve its cultural and natural resources, the South Shore State Park ideally provides recreational opportunities such as Class C campground, small boat access, two 3/4 mile hiking rails which are also used as 3D archery ranges, 5-day areas of picknick purposes and even bank-fishing opportunities.

South Shore State Park Nature

The park is home to numerous wildlife species. It is occupied by deer, raccoons, woodchucks, red foxes, squirrels, doves, quail and songbirds including bluebirds. Brush piles, nest structures, and even bluebird boxes have been placed throughout the area. More than 200K waterfowl stop at the lake in the park on their migratory travels every winter. Other birds that have been spotted in the South Shore State Park include shorebirds, egrets, herons, and raptors. The local wildlife ideally benefits from the restoration of prairie grasses which are native to the region.


Most of the access spots have been rip-rapped to prevent erosion. These places offer ideal fishing spots as well. You can be able to catch largemouth, Sunfish, channel catfish, crappie, white bass, walleye, carp, bluegill, suckers and many others.

Extra Attractions in The Region

Other than the conveniences offered at the park, most Carlyle Lake visitors usually like to check out the facilities offered by Eldon Hazlet State Park (another Department of Natural Resources) and the Corps of Engineers. The United States Army Corps of Engineers run various campgrounds, fishing areas, swimming beaches, boat access regions and other facilities around the lake.

Plan A Visit To Red Hills State Park

Red Hills State Park is a 967 acre park in Illinois. It stays open all year and visitors can enjoy a wide variety of recreational opportunities including hiking, hunting, fishing, and boating. Whether you want to photograph wildflowers or spend some time fishing, there are plenty of activities to enjoy.

Red Hills features wooded hills, meadows, springs, and ravines to explore. There is a 40 acre lake that is open for fishing and boating. Red Hills offers amazing views. There are ecosystems to explore with wet and dry prairies, marshes, and forests.

The park offers horse trails, bike trails, and hiking trails. There are also opportunities to hunt during certain times. Shaded picnic areas abound, and there are over 100 campsites available that you can reserve online. Red Hills is a great place to take the family on a picnic. The picnic areas have grills and tables and some of the picnic areas even have shelter.

If you want to spend more time at Red Hills, consider camping for a few days. There are over 100 campsites to choose from that offer vehicle access and electricity. The campground also has toilets and showers. There are some RV sites as well as handicapped sites.

Red Hills has 8 miles of trails. Walking the trails is a great way to observe birds and some of the other wildlife in the area. The trails are also open for bicycling and horseback riding.

Visitors can walk around a paved trail that circles the lake and they can fish on the banks. Visitors can boat on the lake as long as they don’t commit white collar crimes or use a boat with a gas motor. Visitors can enjoy ice skating on the lake in the winter and ice fishing and sledding is also available.

The video embedded below is a great virtual tour of Red Hills State Park!