Sunday, November 27, 2011

Traveling through the wine trails of Southern Illinois, once again

Our latest exploration took us to the Southern Illinois wine trails.  We went along with a few friends, one of which was celebrating a birthday.  Having spent one birthday on the wine trails, and many other occasions, my husband and I jumped on the chance of going back to visit the area.

The couple we went to the trails with had never been there before, so this was a completely new experience for them.  Being that JC and I are seasoned veterans at “wine trailing” we took the lead and recommended our path through the wine trails.

Our first stop was at our beautiful bed and breakfast.  We stayed at a new bed and breakfast during this visit, the Von Jakob Winery bed and breakfast locations.  The b & b was very nice, we had a whole house to ourselves and it was right on the highway, very close to the wine trails.  Each room was a suite, so we did not have to share bathrooms and the situation was ideal as it allowed for fun time together and privacy.    Staying at the b & b also meant we got a free bottle of wine and a little basket the winery put together.  Also, a homemade breakfast the next morning, which was delicious.  When we go back to the wine trails we will definitely be staying at this b & b again.

Once we got on the wine trail our first stop was the Von Jacob Winery.  This winery has two locations – one on the main highway and another in a more remote area.  We have been to both locations and tend to favor the highway location.  The winery is extremely large with an impressive deck area on the back with a fire pit and view of the forest.  Home brewed beer is also on tap at the winery as well as a delicious food selection.  We did not purchase any food, but did leave with a few bottles of wine.  The Jonathon Apple is one of our favorites on the menu.

The next stop on the trail was Pomona Winery, probably one of my favorites on the wine trail.  Pomona Winery is in the little town of Pomona tucked back in the middle of the woods.  It is one of the furthest wineries to get to, but definitely worth the drive.  The owners of this winery are extremely friendly and walk you through the wine list, explaining each wine in detail.  I learned on this trip the owners are now creating a cook book to go along with their wines.  During our tasting, the owners talked about how they had used each wine  as some element while cooking.  Pomona Winery is my husband’s favorite because it is so quiet and picturesque and, of course, the wines are delicious.

Starview Winery was our next stop on our journey.  This was only my second time visiting Starview, so we weren’t as familiar with their wine list.  The barn-looking building is located next to a pond with a wrap-around porch.  The winery usually always has live music on hand and is a good place to stop along the wine trail.

The last two wineries on our trail were Blue Sky Winery and Rustle Hill Winery.  Blue Sky is by far the most commercialized winery on the Southern Illinois wine trail.  This may be due to the fact that it is so close to Carbondale. The grounds are beautiful with waterfalls and outdoor patios.  The whole atmosphere is very Tuscan-like.  I don’t enjoy this winery as much because I always feel very rushed and not able to enjoy the tasting experience.  During this visit, the winery was not as crowded, so we were able to enjoy the tasting without feeling hurried.  We enjoyed a nice bottle of Reisling before we left.

Rustle Hill Winery stays open the latest, which means it is always the last stop on the trail for us.  This winery has an outdoor, small amphitheater.  We have never been able to go to visit the wine trails during the summer, so we have yet to experience this part of the winery, but this location always has live music at night.  The winery was a little disappointing during our visit because they were sold out of most of their wines.  We were only able to sample three to four wines.  By this time on our journey we were all starving, so our traveling buddies ordered pizza and we ordered bruschetta., both were delicious!  It was worth the trip to the winery just for the bruschetta and pizza!

All in all, the wine trail did not disappoint, once again.  My husband and I love traveling and this is a fun, weekend trip that we always enjoy.  A few more wineries have been added to the trail recently.  Sadly, we were not able to make it to these wineries, but this just gives us another reason to head back down south soon!  To fully experience each winery, “wine trailers” should allot for a full two day trip. For information on the entire Wine Trail check out this website:

Blue Sky Winery

Blue Sky Winery

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