Illinois Wine

Illinois is an American state south of the Great Lakes region and bordered by Missouri to the west and Indiana to the east. The state is one of the fastest-growing wine producers in the US; the number of wineries doubled in the late 1990s and has since expanded to more than a hundred.  

Illinois covers 58,000 square miles (150,000 sq km) and stretches between the latitudes of 36°N and 42°N, similar to northern California. However, the unpredictable and often harsh winters in the Midwest mean that viticulture here is not as widespread as in the key Californian regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Most of the vineyards in Illinois are located in the south, where they can take advantage of slightly warmer temperatures and increased exposure to sunshine.

The flag of Illinois

Illinois has had a long and productive viticultural history that dates back to the mid-19th Century, when settlers planted grapes along the banks of the Mississippi River to make wine. At the turn of the century, Illinois was the fourth-largest wine-producing state in the US. As in so many states, this burgeoning wine industry was devastated by the advent of Prohibition in 1920, when most Illinois vineyards were uprooted in favor of cereal crops. Viticulture returned to the state in the 1980s. (? Proprietary Content, Wine-Searcher.)

Illinois is mostly flat, having been leveled by glacial movement in the last Ice Age. The state's rich loam soils vary in suitability for grape-growing. The biggest threats to the wine industry here have proved to be the harsh winter conditions and damage from herbicides such as 2,4-D, used in other forms of agriculture. This has not deterred growers, however: commercial vineyards in Illinois now account for more than 1000 acres (405ha), with new wineries opening on a regular basis.

Illinois is home to two American Viticultural Areas: Shawnee Hills in the southern tip of the state, and the massive Upper Mississippi Valley AVA that also encompasses land in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The first of these, Shawnee Hills, is one of the most prolific and firmly established viticultural areas of the Midwest, despite having been delimited as an AVA only in 2006.

French-American hybrid grape varieties have proved the most suited to the climate with Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Marechal Foch and Ravat Vignoles making up a significant portion of the state's plantings. The cross-pollination of these French-American hybrids are less susceptible to frosts and extreme cold, ideal for the unpredicatable weather of Illinois. Niagara, Frontenac Gris and Saint Pepin also feature on the grape inventory of Illinois and are commonly made into semi-sweet to dessert style varietals. 

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Most Popular Illinois Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Beer, Illinois, USA Beer 3,226th 94 $21
Hirsch Selection Special Reserve 20 Year Old American Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whisky - Whiskey Blended 10,038th 87 $358
Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. 'Oldfangled Knotter' 12 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 14,056th $792
Hiram Walker 'De Luxe' 8 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 17,948th $239
Small Town Brewery Not Your Father's Vanilla Cream Ale Beer, Illinois, USA Beer 31,550th $3
Small Town Brewery Not Your Father's Mountain Ale Beer, Illinois, USA Beer 32,718th $4
Jeremiah Weed Southern Style Lightning Lemonade Malt Beverage, Illinois, USA Malt Beverage 37,287th $10
Carl Jeppson Company 'Jeppson's Malort' Liqueur, Illinois, USA Bitters 37,287th $22
Blondies Strawberry Lemonade Vodka Cocktail, Illinois, USA Premixed Drinks 38,939th $12
FEW Rye Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whiskey - Rye 42,746th 89 $56
FEW Bourbon Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 44,174th 88 $49
Koval Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 47,419th 89 $53
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Rye Brand Stout Beer, Illinois, USA Beer 48,290th 93 $41
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Beer Vertical Collection, Illinois, USA Beer 66,975th $59
Pheasant Hollow Winery Black & Blue, Illinois, USA Flavored - Spiced - Fruit Wine 68,713th $14
FEW Flaming Lips Brainville Rye Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whiskey - Rye 68,713th $134
Galena Cellars Senor Sangria, Illinois, USA Sangria 70,683rd N/A
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale Beer, Illinois, USA Beer 77,038th $30
August Hill Winery Traminette, Illinois, USA Traminette 77,038th $16
Oppidan 'Smoke + Sea' Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 77,038th 90 $46
Alto Vineyards Rocko Red, Illinois, USA Rare Red Blend 81,956th $19
Blue Sky Vineyards Chambourcin, Illinois, USA Chambourcin 84,687th $21
Blue Sky Vineyards Rocky Comfort Red, Illinois, USA Rare Red Blend 84,687th $15
Galena Cellars Cranberry Wine, Illinois, USA Flavored - Spiced - Fruit Wine 84,687th N/A
Koval Single Barrel Oat Whiskey, Illinois, USA Whisky - Whiskey Grain 87,532nd 73 $53
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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