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Illinois Wine Month

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 16, 2005 2:24PM

If it seems that Chicagoist has been writing a lot lately about wine there's a reason besides we'e drinking a lot of it. Governor Blago has declared September as the first Illinois Wine Month.

The number of wineries in the state has grown in the past eight years from twelve to sixty, producing an estimated 500,000 gallons a year. Grape acreage especially has expanded from 140 acres to over 1,000 acres in that same eight-year span. This results in $20 million annually in revenue for the state.

As a result there are a number of events being held in conjunction with Illinois Wine Month. Two within easy reach this weekend are the third annual Old Town Grape Crush tomorrow. From 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. (note: the wine tasing hours will be from 1-6 p.m.) attendees can sample from over 50 different wineries at this free event where Wells Street will most likely be overrun by the stroller patrol and meet market habitues. Background hook-up music will be provided by Cathy Richardson and Koko Taylor.

If you wish to get away from the city then a trip to Starved Rock State Park might be in your itinerary. Vintage Illinois will feature wines from 21 Illinois wineries with the natural beauty of Starved Rock as a backdrop. Admission is $10 (which includes a commemorative galss and five tasting tickets; hours are 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday.

For your perusal a comprehensive listing of local events can be found here.

Finally, Chicagoist would like to offer a tip of the cap to Everest sommelier and "Check Please" host Alpana Singh, who was just promoted to director of wine and spirits for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Everest's parent company. Her job entails wine education for staff at all Lettuce restaurants and overseeing wine purchasing and merchandising for the company.