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The Illinois Vineyard & Grapes

Renown since Colonial times, Cynthiana stands alone among American grapes for producing a dry, barrel aged red wine in the finest European tradition. It is also America’s most unusual wine grape in that it is the only high quality red wine grape grown in America that is a cross between a European wine grape and a native American grape. Cynthiana (a.k.a. Norton or Virginia Seedling) is highly particular when it comes to soil and climate and grows well only in a narrow band stretching from Virginia through Illinois and Missouri (where it has been declared the official “State Grape”.) Illinois Cellars’s planting of Cynthiana, at the winery in Carrollton, defines the northern most range of the grape which allows for an extended “hang time” during the cooler weeks of September and October.

Chardonel: All Chardonel vines in the world are descended from one single Chardonnay seed planted in 1946 by Dr. John Einset in Geneva, New York. When well made, the wine from Chardonel is virtually identical to that of Chardonnay. The primary advantage of Chardonel is that it is more cold resistant than its parent and can suffer winter temperature that are ten to fifteen degrees lower. This is important because almost all grapes make their most expressive wines in the northernmost reaches of their growing zone. Carrollton is about as far north as Chardonel can ripen its crop and still not be killed back by subzero temperatures. Illinois Cellars’s planning of Chardonel at the winery is the single largest block in the state of Illinois.

Vidal Blanc: Developed in the Cognac region of France, Vidal is a cross between Trebbiano and Rayon d’ Or. It ripens quite slowly and has a thick, tough skin which allows it to hang on the vine into early winter where it can be harvested to make “Ice Wine”. The current winemaker at Illinois Cellars was the first person in America to make and sell an Icewine in 1976. Since then this style of wine has caught on, especially in Canada, and Icewines regularly win some of the highest awards in national and international contests. Illinois Cellars plans to sell its first Icewine in 2006.

Experimental Varieties: Illinois Cellars has the largest planting of new, experimental, high quality, grape varieties in the eastern United States. We have devoted acres of ground to developing new wines from new grape cultivars that will continue to raise the standards of wine making throughout the world.
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Illinois Cellars Winery - Route 2, Box 7A - Carrollton, Illinois 62016 - Telephone: 217-942-6250
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