Recently, I received a great comment regarding one of my blogs from Karen Cooper, a mortgage banker/broker from Ashland, Oregon. She mentioned that she hosted wine tastings using local wines as a way of bonding and marketing to her referral partners. What a great way to promote not only your business, but other businesses and features of your local area!
Karen's region of the U.S. is noted for its wonderful wineries, but did you know that Illinois also can brag about its wine growing and harvest?
Most people think of Bordeaux in France, California's Napa Valley, Australia's Barossa Valley, and Oregon when they think about wine production. And, although it is true that a concentration of fine vineyards is to be found in these areas, the largest (in terms of land mass) wine growing area in the world is actually to be found in the Upper Mississippi Valley, which touches upon four U.S. states and includes Illinois.
Most vineyards found in this area are small and family-run, covering just four to 10 acres. They are very hands-on in nature and many allow access and up-close viewing of the wine-making process. Tours of the vineyard, coupled with other amenities, are not uncommon. Some will even let you mash and stomp your own grapes in the old-fashioned way. There is actually an annual festival held in the area that borrows its name from the famous "I Love Lucy" wine-stomping episode.
Galena, Illinois is a major focal point of the wine tours hosted in this area. The oldest winery in this area makes 40 different wines from grapes and other fruits, including apples, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and peaches ... even rhubarb. A wine tasting gallery is operated on-site along with a shop that offers all sorts of specialty items that compliment the wine experience.
Especially now, during autumn's spectacular colors, Galena and the entire Upper Mississippi Valley region is a place to consider for scenic fall stays and driving tours. The rolling hills, the beautiful small towns, B&B's, the glimpse of wild turkey, fox, and deer and the byway along the Mississippi, all offer visions of Illinois that most do not equate with the state.
I invite you to come visit our state. Relax ... sip one of our fine wines ... and stay awhile. You'll love it.
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