The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Illinois Wine a Ripening Industry

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 15, 2007 5:18PM

2007_01_wineguy.jpgWe won't be mistaking southern Illinois' Shawnee Hills region with Napa Valley just yet, although both are designated American Viticultural Areas. But a recent study shows that the Illinois wine industry is growing faster than anticipated. Much faster.

The study, conducted by wine industry valuation firm MKF Research for the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, lists a total of 68 wineries in Illinois, with 10 of those vineyards opening for business in the past eighteen months. Additionally, two-thirds of the state's counties have at least one vineyard, Illinois has 450 grape growers, and, in the largest growth trend, 1200 acres across the state are committed to growing grapes. That's up from only 140 acres ten years ago.

The new report places a 2005 UIUC study of the Illinois wine industry (available online here, in Adobe pdf format) into a more accurate perspective. The new study shows that the explosion of Illinois vineyards results in $253 million dollars in revenue, including an impressive $31 million in wine-related tourism. This means that you now have another reason to visit southern Illinois besides rioting in Carbondale on Halloween.

Photo via Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association.