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Who knew the relatively inhospitable soil of the Illinois valley would prove key to growing the hardiest grapes required to craft award-winning sparkling wines?
Founders Mark Wenzel and his wife, Teri, knew this land, in combination with arduous craftsmanship, would make a superb bottle of bubbly. These tough Midwestern soil conditions also ensured a more resilient stock of local grapes and ultimately a product certain to be the toast of the town. The sparkling winemaking process is not for the weak of spirit. Mark and Teri spent years perfecting the production of these highly acidic grapes grown in fields just down the road from where Mark’s grandfather, August Engelhaupt, tilled clay-loam soil on the family’s first farm.
As fortune would have it, the combination of cold Illinois winters in the region where his grandfather first broke ground, provides the ideal conditions for their white grapes to thrive−conditions every bit as fertile as those found nearly 4,000 miles away in the acclaimed growing regions of Champagne, France.
If you’re looking for a wine with hints of green apple and honey plus a little dash of history, try their extra-dry Blend 786. It’s the same number taken from the submarine, USS Illinois (a vintage of this bubbly that also christened the sub’s launch on October 10, 2015). Or imbibe in their popular Extra Brut, a crisp, gold, Silver Medal-winning sparkler that offers notes of pear and lavender.
While you’re at it, pay a visit to their tasting room on Mill Street or sample, to your palate’s content, the finest sparkling wines now gracing the menus of top restaurants and bars across the land, including the world-famous Pops for Champagne in Chicago.
Cover photo courtesy of Travel Illinois.