Did you know that northern Illinois hosts dozens of wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms? It’s true. Each has its own style and flavor, and you can enjoy wine events year round all over the city and suburbs.
Start with the Northern Illinois Wine Trail to get a sense of what Illinois has to offer. It features three loops you can explore, with 30+ distinctive wineries. The Chicagoland Loop includes businesses in the west and northwest suburbs, along with one meadery and winery in Chicago. The Fox River Valley loop takes you further west and north for wineries in Utica, Geneva, and Algonquin, among other areas. And the Northwest Loop includes wine-centric locations in Galena, Coal Valley, Hanover, Freeport, and more on the west side of the state. You can enjoy tastings, try food pairings, and explore as you learn about Illinois wines!
Additionally, you’ll find events throughout the upcoming season that showcase local wines:
This festival is in downtown Oak Park, and takes place on 6/3 this year. You can sample 150 wines from 15 local wineries and enjoy local artisan foods at this fourth annual festival.
Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Fest
The Ottawa-based event is set for 6/9-/611. Check out wines from 20 wineries in Illinois, and enjoy fresh lobster and live jazz while you’re at it! There’s also an Outdoor Arts and Crafts Market.
Illinois Wine Experience
Come to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on 8/10-8/20 for this exciting event! You can try wines and beers from Illinois wineries and breweries in the Artisans building. Admission is free, and tasting tickets are available for just $1 (buy 10 and get a complimentary wine glass).
Windy City Wine Festival
This takes place on 9/8 in Chicago, right at Buckingham Fountain in Millennium Park. This celebration of wine, beer, food, music, and friends lets you sample 300+ international wines, including local ones. Get your advance ticket now for $40 and up.
Utica’s wine event takes place 9/16-9/17, and is billed as the largest wine tasting festival in the state. Around 30 wineries are slated to offer tastings, and there will be food and live entertainment as well. Advance tickets cost $20, and will get you a souvenir glass and seven tasting tickets.
Nouveau Wine Weekend
This Galena community affair will be 11/18-11/19. Centered around Galena Cellar’s Vineyard & Winery, this 32nd annual event showcases the annual release of Le Beaujolais nouveau, the first wine of the harvest. It has become a town celebration with traditional French food, a parade, live music, tastings, dinner specials, and receptions. The vineyard is open all weekend for tours, tastings, and more.
For information on how you can enjoy the delights of the Northern Illinois Wine Trail, and explore the world of local wine, visit www.northernillinoiswinetrail.com. For information on the state’s more than 100 wineries, visit illinoiswine.com.