The Winery at Shale Lake1499 Washington Avenue Williamson, Illinois 62088 http://www.shalelake.com/
Open every weekend:
FRIDAY 4:00 to 10:00 p.m.
SATURDAY 1:00 to 10:00 p.m.
SUNDAY 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Location, Arrival, & Lodging:
Due to the lovely daylight savings time change, it was dark when we arrived at Shale Lake. It was a very rural drive and simple to get to with the assistance of our GPS. It seemed to be on the edge of the town of Williamson, IL. Shale Lake is also known as Mt. Olive -Staunton Coal Company Mine #2. When we drove up in the dark we were surprised to see such a large building that resembled a barn style building. We couldn’t see the vineyards that were along the side of the driveway to the winery. The sign outside as we pulled up said “Stables” so I was a bit confused if we were at the right place. As we parked and were walking in I noticed they used corks for mulch in the landscape, I thought this was a very creative idea and this confirmed to me we were at a winery. Once we entered the wine tasting bar it seemed smaller and more of an intimate setting. We were welcomed by the guy from behind the bar which ended up being the owner/winemaker David Wesa & his wife Susan. Wine tastings were free and having the owner/winemaker was a bonus because we got more education about the wines that we were tasting. Shale Lake Winery is part of the Heartland Wine Trail. When you purchase some wine ask for your stamp on the Wine Trail Passport Booklet. There is lodging in a nearby town.
Staff and Service:
We were greeted by the owners David & Susan, who were friendly and helpful. The service was very personable and friendly. We ordered food, were offered to look around, and sit where we like. They brought the food to us and were very helpful and friendly.
The menu had a variety of choices. Our picks were the handmade pizza and brie served with a jelly sauce & honey. The food was very good and served warm.
Amenities & more:
They had a variety of areas to sit and enjoy the wine. With two sitting rooms upstairs, there was one that was an interesting tribute type room to the Beatles. Both upstairs rooms had televisions and large comfortable couches as well as other seating. As you walked down you could look through a window into the winemaking room. So while you are there it’s worth checking the rooms out. We enjoyed our wine on the enclosed sun porch.
Chrissy’s Crushes: The hospitality and knowledge of the wine and history of the place.
Winery and Wines:
Experiencing the Winery at Shale Lake was different than many of the other local wineries in this area. The owners started off looking for a location to start a winery in their retirement and ended up with about 212 acres including the lake. They offer many extra amenities like boarding horses and hiking. Then in 2007 they planted vineyards. Today they have added a wine tasting area next to the horse stables so you can see the horse stalls through the window in the tasting room. Interesting concept! The moment I entered the tasting area it brought me back to my childhood. A visual of me saddling up horses and riding when I was younger all came back to me. The smell of the horses from the neighboring room has entered the tasting room. So moving on to tasting and trying to smell the wines.
It seems all the names of wines are named after race horses like Beginner’s Luck, Snake Eyes, Triple Vine, etc. but that is not confirmed. The wines we tasted include:
Quarter Turn 2011- Red Norton, half of the grapes are grown on site and half are grown at Silver Creek. It tasted one layered (did not have a lot of depth), but had a long finish.
Decade – This 2010 Chambourcin Blend was an oaked, dry red, deep in garnet color, a heavier wine with more depth than the Norton.
Beginner’s Luck – A 2010 Chambourcin that was NOT oaked but somewhat buttery, very spicy with hints of nutmeg.
Snake Eyes 2011 – a heavy bodied white that was semi-dry and very fruit forward with hints of apple. Would go great with salads or fish.
Seventh Heaven 2011- a French American hybrid grape, white Vignoles, is light colored, fruity, crisp, sweet but not overly sweet. I enjoyed this one a lot!
Sixth Sense 2010 – The Cayuga grape has a very distinct flavor. Sixth Sense is a blended wine that is sweet. It was too sweet for me.
Spider Legs 2010 – This blueberry wine smelled FABULOUS! It tasted like a fresh blueberry. It had a little tartness. Very good!
Cloud Nine 2011 – Chambourcin usually produces a red wine but they chose NOT to ferment it on the skins therefore they created a white Chambourcin. Red wines get their color from the skins of the grapes. The result is a light flavored semi-sweet white. It lingered a bit at the finish. Very nice.
Lynn’s Wins: Decade 2010, I gave three glasses!