Southern Illinois is…….. wine country?
It’s true. Down in the hills of the Shawnee National Forest is a wine trail consisting of 11 wineries, all within 30 miles of each other. Here’s a link to the map, which is also below.
Unfortunately I didn’t hit all of the wineries in my time in Carbondale, but I did hit 7 of the 11. I’ll start on the west side south of Murphysboro and work my way around, which was generally the path my friends and I took when doing wine tastings. It was always a pain to bounce between all of their sites for hours of operation when I was planning a trip down there, so I’m making a compilation (as much for myself for future trips as for the readers haha). This is also about raising awareness for the wineries as well. I loved going to them and hope to see them succeed.
Kite Hill Winery
Unfortunately one of the wineries I never made it to. It doubles as a bed and breakfast. Settled on a large piece of property overlooking a large pond I image it makes for a relaxing setting to drink some wine. Here is a link to their website.
Sunday, Monday, Thursday: 12-5pm
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Only open Saturday/Sunday 12pm-5pm
Pomona is one of my favorites and they specialize in wine produced from apples, although they have wines of all types. It’s nestled back in the woods not far from the Little Grand Canyon and Pomona Natural Bridge. The people working were always incredibly knowledgeable and personable. Tastings were cheap and included the glass if I recall correctly. You can see the wrap around porch that sits in the woods and you feel like you’re sitting amongst the trees.
Friday-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5
Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5
Hickory Ridge Winery
Unfortunately this is another I never made it to even though it’s just a short drive over from Pomona :(. They make their wines from grapes grown on site and are known for their dry wines.
Von Jakob Vineyard & Winery
First off, it’s pronounced “Von Yaw-Cub”, not a hard “c” or “k” sound. Von Jakob is another I frequented when in college as it was an easy drive down Route 127 from Murphysboro. They’ve got large indoor and outdoor seating areas and are capable to host weddings/receptions. They’ve recently expanded into brewing beers as well. At my last visit in December I sampled their SoIll IPA as well as a few of their wines. No glass included in their tasting, but I think they sell glasses for about $3 if you’re interested in a souvenir. On weekends in warmer months they’ll often have live music.
Mon-Fri: 11am – 5pm
Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 10am – 6pm
It was near impossible to pick a photo for Alto Vineyards. Do I pick one from their ground level deck, roof top deck, of the landscape and pond, or of their modernist style building. I still haven’t decided as I write this so I’ll have to come back to it, I’m as curious as you as to which I’ll pick. Alto has the wine to match the beauty of the property, you really can’t go wrong here. Tastings are cheap and include the glass (I think? If you can’t tell already I liked collecting glasses from the wineries). They consistently have live music on weekends and they also host weddings. They’ve recently opened up a tasting room in Champaign, Illinois as well.
Monday – Thursday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Yet another winery I haven’t visited, starting to wonder why I could do this analysis. I think I need to make a trip back home to go visit all the ones I missed while I was down there. Hedman is a winery with a bit of a Swedish flair. The owners moved to southern Illinois from Stockholm Sweden 22 years ago. It was only supposed to be a one year trip, but they fell in love with the area so they decided to stay. Their site claims they serve Swedish cuisine like none other in the region and photos on their site seem to back it up. They’ve also got the “Peachbarn”, which was built in 1945 (it’s since been renovated obviously), where they hold a variety of events.
November – April:
Fri. – Sat. 11 am – 8 pm
Sunday 12 – 5 pm
May – October:
Wed. – Thurs. 12 – 5 pm
Fri. – Sat. 11 am – 8 pm
Sunday- 12 – 5 pm
Owl Creek Vineyard
Owl Creek is nestled along the woods down in Cobden, Illinois. You step in and go up the stairs on your right into a visually warm area decorated with
Mon. – Thurs. 12 – 5 pm
Fri. – Sun. 12 – 7 pm
No more than a couple miles down the road from Owl Creek is Starview. They serve great food and wine, but my favorite from Starview is their white sangria. They’ve got a nice large seating area with high ceilings and artwork. They often have live music here as well, the last time I was there it was a solo acoustic guitarist/singer.
November – March
Monday – Thursday 12pm – 5pm
Friday 12pm – 6pm
Saturday 11am – 7pm
Sunday 12pm – 6pm
April – October
Monday – Thursday 12pm – 6pm
Friday 12pm – 6pm
Saturday 11am – 8pm
Sunday 12pm – 7pm
I’ve never been here, not sure of it’s current status as there’s a live listing for the property. So if you’re interested in the wine making/selling business it’s currently listed for $525,000!
Friday & Sunday- Noon – 5 pm
Saturday: 10am – 5 pm
Blue Sky Winery
Want the Italian feel without leaving southern Illinois? Check out Blue Sky. The grounds and building are absolutely stunning and you won’t feel like you’re in southern Illinois anymore. The wine and food is great and be sure to get their bread and olive oil as a starter. A beautiful spot for a wedding and reception and they’ve got suites you can rent out as well.
Monday – Thursday 11am – 5:30pm
Friday – Satuday 11am – 7pm
Sunday 12pm – 6:30pm
Honker Hill Winery
Never made it over to Honker Hill, which is unforunate because it looks like a pretty spot to enjoy some wine. Outside of Kite Hill, it’s the closest one to Carbondale.
Thur- 12pm – 5pm
Friday – 12pm – 11pm
Satuday 12pm – 10pm
Sunday 12:30pm – 10pm
So the next winery isn’t a member of the Shawnee wine trail, but it’s up there with my favorites.
Rustle Hill Winery
Rustle Hill is a short jog south on Highway 51 in Carbondale. The exterior grounds and inside are gorgeous. The building sits atop a hill looking down over a pond and outdoor amphitheater. When the weather is nice on weekends they’ll often have live music and people will bring blankets and set up on the grass on the hill or sit at one of the many picnic tables in the area. They also have a full service kitchen (with pizza that’s to die for) and cabins on the other side of the pond that you can rent.
If you live in southern Illinois, enjoy wine, and have never checked out any of these wineries, you’re doing yourself a real disservice. Take a weekend, get down to southern Illinois, and do some wine tasting. If you’ve got time also get out and hike (although not after drinking).