It's not the Loire (there is a Starbucks across the street), but Lynfred Winery in Roselle (near Schaumburg) is totally worth the 45-plus-minute drive from the city in traffic. The ambiance is quaint and charming; the people are friendly and knowledgeable; and most importantly the wine is good.
You might be wondering how there could possibly be a vineyard in the middle of suburban Roselle, and well, there isn't. Lynfred, which was founded in 1979 by Fred Koehler, makes a wide variety of wines, but does not actually grow any of the grapes. Some are grown in Newton, IL, some in Michigan, but most are sourced from California and Washington state.
Clearly, we're wine people, and up until two weeks ago, we didn't even know the place existed. Now, we're talking about when we'll go back to have the full experience--to taste and eat and sleep and bathe in their amazing wine-region themed suites (see our photo gallery for bathrooms you'd die for).
On Saturday, we got the full tour: tasting room, cellar, tunnels, bottling room, fermentation room, the specialty shop, and the bed-and-breakfast inn. The vines might not be here, but that only slightly takes away from the traditional wine-tasting experience that we cherish.
(Really, if you've never been wine tasting, say in California, it's one of the best things in life. But if you've never been wine tasting, you're probably not reading this blog.)
While we missed the vines, we enjoyed the tour and tasting as much as most. Here's a list of the wine we tried:
2007 Vidal Blanc (Newton, IL) $20.25
2007 Viognier (Washington) $20.25
2009 Chenin Blanc (Lodi, CA) $19.00
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi, CA) $25.25
2007 Zinfandel (Lodi, CA) $25.25
2003 Syrah $18.25
1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Quintessa Vineyard (California) $40.00
NV Strawberry $12.00
We liked the Viognier the best; it was good enough to buy a bottle. He Sips also liked the 1996 Cab. And we already reviewed the Zin.
So if you find yourself at IKEA this weekend, you might as well drive ten minutes south to check it out yourself. Tastings are $9/person.
For more information, check out the Chicagoist,
who recently interviewed Koehler about the Illinois wine scene, and Chuck Sudo's two-part feature on the winery as well.