Southern Illinois Wineries Offer Guests Something Special

Thirty years ago, Guy Renzaglia told his friends and family that he was going to grow French-American grapes in Southern Illinois’ Union County. People laughed because wine wasn’t one of the state’s industries. Today, Guy has the last laugh as his Alto Vineyards is now a cornerstone for the ever-growing and prosperous Southern Illinois wine industry.

The wine industry in Illinois is exploding. In 1997, there were only 14 wineries in the entire state. Today, there are more than 100 and they provide an economic impact of almost $700 million.

Illinois is a large state and is divided into four major wine regions: the Northern, Central, South Central, and Southern regions. There are also eight wine trails that showcase many of the state’s wineries and allow guests to discover a variety of wines along each trail.

Many Illinois wineries are tourist destinations and offer live entertainment, food, and even overnight lodging. Some even hold performances such as festivals and dinner theater and all are popular as wedding venues.

In southern Illinois, the Shawnee Hills American Viticultural Area was the state’s first viticultural area and is still the only one contained completely within the state. This area contains two wine trails and is home to 17 wineries and vineyards.

The Southern Illinois Wine Trail offers visitors adventure, tranquility and exceptional wines. The wines come from native Illinois grapes and the wineries are nestled amid serene countryside and beautiful farmland. The trail runs north of the Ohio River and takes guests to tasting rooms that welcome each and every one with a warm and inviting atmosphere.

The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail meanders through one of the Midwest’s most established wine regions. The area features award-winning wineries that are located along the 40-mile trail that also takes guests through the Shawnee National Forest. There are eleven wineries along this trail and each offers visitors something unique, along with great wine.

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