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Tasting grapes right off the vine at Lau Nae, Delicious!

Lau Nae Winery

1522 State Rt 3

Red Bud, IL 62278

618-282-9463 (WINE)

 

http://www.lau-naewinery.com/index2.asp

Hours:

Wed – Thursday    11am – 10pm

Friday  – Saturday  11am – 11pm

Sunday                11am – 7pm

11/13/12 

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Location, Arrival, & Lodging:

Driving in Southern Illinois when the fall colors are changing is absolutely breathtaking.  Good therapy all on its own, so if you add a stop at a winery that just enhances the wonderful relaxing experience.  Lau Nae was easy to find since it was on the main road, Illinois Rt. 3.  Even though it sits right off the road it’s far enough from the town that it lets you enjoy the country like setting with a modern touch.

Staff and Service:

The staff was nice. One girl seemed to be new and kept asking the other one who seemed overwhelmed.  They were taking food orders, doing wine tastings and getting drink orders and it was a Saturday. You order your food, place wine/drink orders and do tastings all at the same bar.  You get a pager so when you’re foods done you go back to the bar to pick it up.  This is nice because you can sit anywhere and enjoy your food and wine.  We chose the patio next to the bon fire and grape vines.  As we were leaving we were greeted and thanked by the winery owner who was nice and grateful for our business.

Food Offerings:

From appetizers, pizza, salads, to BBQ they have it all.  Appetizers varied from Baked Roasted Herb Bread to dips, cheese platters and more.  Lynn chose the sausage and cheese platter which had a nice selection of cheeses, fruits, olives, breads and salami slices for $12.00.  I indulged in the BBQ pork sandwich with sweet and sour sauce and my 2 sides of (mayo based)cole slaw and beans YUM.  The pork was tender and seasoned just right all for only $9.00. There was so much I could only eat half of it all.  So go hungary and thirsty they can fulfill the hunger!
Amenities & more:

As you enter the winery it’s lined with grapevines which you are encouraged to sample the grapes, so of course we did and I loved it! Lau Nae could host a few events at a time with two indoor banquet areas besides the tasting room with additional seating, the front porch and patio with fire pits.  It is a great place to hold a small wedding, party, or social gathering.  They offer special catering packages, party, wedding, and or reception packages.  They can also customize a wine label for any special occasion.  The entire place seemed to have been updated recently and was very warm and inviting no matter where you chose to enjoy the day or evening.

Chrissy’s Crushes: The grapevines that you could sample right off of. YUM!

 

Lynn’s Vine:

Winery & Wines:

Lau Nae was established in 1999 and was the 17th winery in the State of Illinois. It was handed down to Matt Mollett by his parents in 2007. They grow many of the grapes themselves – Chardonel, Niagra, Concord, Chambourcin, Marechal Foch, Catawba… They had many wines that they offered but only certain ones could be tasted so depending on when you visit Lau Nae Winery you might be able to taste different wines. You did have the option to purchase any bottle they offered and consume it there.  My understanding is that they have a wine club and the winemaker is always looking at blending juices and trying to create new wines like for example, “The Octopus”.  I think he was running out of names!!!

As Chrissy said we sat on the patio next to the grapevines and of course we had to try them.  They were Concord grapes and I couldn’t stop eating them. The darker purple ones were tart and the reddish ones were sweeter and they each had different amount of seeds in them. Overall the prices were good and the food was very good.

The wines I tasted:

Sauvignon Blanc – $14 a bottle, was light, crisp, refreshing, medium finish. Very good.  I enjoyed this one but had better.

Seyval Blanc/Riesling – $13.50 a bottle, white that smelled like bubble gum! Yummy.

Cabernet Franc – ruby colored, peppery, spicy, black currants, tannic, long finish.  It was a little spicy and tannic for me but others would certainly enjoy it.

Pride – $14.75 a bottle, blend of Chambourcin, Syrah, Dolcetto, very well balanced, lighter, medium finish 13.5% alcohol.  This is the one I enjoyed the most and got a bottle of to take home.

Wines that Chrissy tasted:

Due to them having a large selection of wine there was something to accommodate almost any pallet.  She tasted the:

 Geisenheim -$13.50 btl. – a semi-sweet white, crisp, citrus tasting wine from the Foch grape.

Traminette – $13.50 btl. -which I’m a fan of anyway- a semi sweet white.

Lynn’s Wins: The Pride – it was lighter and very nicely balanced. This is the glass I chose for the evening.

 

Other nearby lodging was in Red Bud. We stayed at:

Red Bud Country Inn

1617 South Main Street

Red Bud, IL 62278

www.redbudcountryinn.com

10/13/12

Lynn’s Vine:

 

Red Bud is about 40 miles from St. Louis.   The Getaway Gals decided to stay nearby after trying wine.  Smart move because we could enjoy ourselves a little more.  The stay at Red Bud Country Suites was excellent.  The cost was about $76 with tax for a king size bed suite. Not bad. The room was very clean and comfortable. They even had a frig and microwave in the room.  It stormed that evening but I didn’t hardly hear anything and slept like a baby!

Chrissy wanted to add that the owner, Ray, was very accommodating when she said we would be checking in late. The next morning he called one of our rooms to make sure we got the continental breakfast and he was helpful to point out some local places to dine. She felt the place was clean and safe.

We would stay there again without a doubt.

Piasa Winery & Pub – a laid back way of life!

Piasa Winery & Pub

225 West Main St

Grafton, IL

http://www.piasawinery.com/index.html

 9/21/12

Saw a paddleboat heading down the river while at Piasa Winery & Pub

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Arrival : Well this was the last stop for the day for the Midwest Winery Gals.  We really enjoyed our travel to Grafton. There’s so much going on when you drive the beautiful quaint town of Grafton that if you aren’t paying attention Piasa Winery & Pub can get mixed in the shuffle, but you need to be looking for this one!!  I had heard Piasa was the first winery in this location and I felt it was important to find it and check it out!! It was well worth the stop.  It sits on the corner and is a small older building that if the walls could talk I bet would have some great stories to tell.  I had to stop for a photo outside just because of curb appeal and it being a fun thing to do.  As you enter it feels like the old time local pub.  A bar, signage all over the walls and some people even stopped to look at who’s walking in.  If you walk beyond that you’ll come to a small tasting bar and seating, then onto the back patio.  Of course our first stop the tasting bar.

Food, Seating & More: They serve up more than just bar food.  You can get different chicken sandwiches, BBQ Pork, Portabella sandwich to blackened catfish. Your seating options are in a small cozy area by the bar or outside on the upper or lower deck.  There was a separate deck that they had a bridal shower at, so definitely room for small private events as well. Live music was provided on that Sunday afternoon. Great atmosphere! You can look onto the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers from almost any seat in or out of the house.

Staff & Tasting:  Tastings were free and you could try their Piasa Wines as well as the large selection of wines from all over the country.  The bartender we had was very pleasant and knowledgeable..

Chrissy’s Crushes: the history
Chrissy’s Score: Two GRAPES!!

Piasa Winery & Pub entry

Lynn’s Wins:

I remember going to Grafton a long time ago and I believe they were located in the stone building next to them that is occupied by Two Rivers Winery now. Not sure why the change but I think they were close to the first winery around this area. I did notice a trend around Grafton and that seems to be a laid back way of life. I felt relaxed the whole weekend here sitting back with a glass of wine, looking at a great view of the river, and seeing all the people walking the streets and laughing and having a good time! We even saw some hula hoopers!

Piasa’s wines were made in nearby Godfrey but are now made at Villa Marie Winery in Maryville. They do have about 15 Piasa wines to choose from but they also have wines from around the world. They also had over 100 different beers to choose from on draft, bottles, and cans.

Wine tastings were complimentary at Piasa.  The server was fun and new the wines well. So being that it was towards the end of a long day I only tried a couple.

They were:

Piasa Norton – $19.95 bottle

Their Nortonis a native varietal wine. It is a wine grape that dates back to Thomas Jefferson at Montecello.  Of course it tastes much better now than 200 years ago. Their Norton was spicy with hints of black cherry, somewhat oaky.  It needs to be paired with a great juicy steak!

Piasa Chambourcin  – $17.95 bottle

It was lighter than the Norton but still dry, buttery like almost creamy, yummy!

Piasa Riverfest –$15.95 bottle

A white, crisp, light, tart but smooth, fruity, almost like a Riesling. Not overly sweet. Refreshing!

They also carried about 12 other Piasa wines and many others like Tomasello’s Broomstick Brew and Vampire for the season.

Lynn’s wins: Piasa Riverfest – 4 Glasses – Goes great on a warm evening sitting behind Piasa overlooking the river.

Mary Michelle Winery located in Pere Marquette Lodge

Mary Michelle Winery

At Pere Marquette Lodge & Conference Center

Illinois Route 100 – The Great River Road –

A National Scenic Byway

13653 Lodge Boulevard

Grafton, IL 62037

Phone: (618) 786-2331

 https://www.illinois-wine.com/store/index.php

9/23/12

Pere Marquette Lodge where Mary Michelle Winery is located

Chrissy’s Grapes

 

Location, Arrival, and Lodging:

Mary Michelle Winery is located in the Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton, IL.  The lodge is easily accessed from the Great River Road (Rt. 100) through Grafton about 5 miles northwest, which is about 45 minutes north of St. Louis.

Wow!! It’s almost like driving back in time…. the drive is very peaceful and beautiful I think a drive just to check out the fall colors is worth it, then the wine is a bonus!!! Who knew there would be a winery inside a park?? The park is huge and offers so much!!! There are several lodging options, recreational areas, pavilions for events, for special occasions, family reunions, weddings, etc. The main lodge itself is huge and was built in the 1930’s by prison labor. The park has hosted weddings from all over the world, as well as family reunions, business meetings and so on. They had very nice large and clean restrooms which I always appreciate.

Food & Stuff:
Angela, the bar manager, recommended the lodge’s restaurant for lunch so that’s what we did.  The food was like they stole grandma and had her make it. The food was priced mostly in the teens and well proportioned. Service was very good and timely.  I’m not usually a lodge restaurant type person but I was pleasantly surprised with this one.  Along with serving the Mary Michelle and Illinois Cellar wines they had a large selection of wines from all over the world available.  The winery offered five appetizers which came from Pere Marquette’s Restaurant. You can pick up some chocolate or sweets on your way in or out of the main lodge, a perfect addition to any wine trip if you ask me??

Staff & Tasting:

Angela was very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly. She was happy to make some recommendations which is helpful.  You can sample all the wines except the ice wine which is only sold by the bottle.  I’m not a big ice wine drinker so I passed on that.  Angela did keep us hydrated with plenty of water as we requested and let us take some fun photos of us goofing off in the winery.  It’s always nice to encounter such pleasant people!

Chrissy’s Crushes:  the Mary Michelle Wines
Chrissy’s Score: Four GRAPES!!

Inside of Mary Michelle Winery at Pere Marquette

Lynn’s Wins

 

Winery, Wines, and Wine Club:

The Midwest Winery Gals really enjoyed visiting the Pere MarquetteLodge area and the Mary Michelle Winery. It has a quaint little area that is clean & cozy as well as an outdoor seating area to enjoy a glass of wine while enjoying the weather. Although there were no vineyards to admire you didn’t miss them because of all the other beautiful, nature scenes to enjoy!! The vineyards are located in Carrolton, IL which does not have open hours, but they allow tours one day a year.  The manager behind the bar wasn’t sure when that was though.

 Mary Michelle offers a wine club as well for a one-time fee of $20 and you get a lifetime membership with complimentary wine tastings, 10% off case of wine, 10% off dining room and gift shop and 10% off rack rate at Pere Marquette Lodge and accommodations, 1 free Pere Marquette Lodge wine glass, free appetizers at every wine club get together, and a special price for wine dinners. WOW! What a deal!

 The owner chose the winery name by his Mother, Mary and his wife, Michelle. To distinguish between the different fermentations processes, Mary Michelle labeled their wines differently. Illinois Cellars represents wines fermented in stainless steel tanks and Mary Michelle wines were fermented in French American Oak barrels. Why is this important? This will change the flavor of the wine.  When aged in an oak barrel you get more vanilla and buttery tones to a wine.

Their offerings:

Wine tasting cost: $2 for 4 tastings

Glass cost: $6

Bottled Wine: $15 – $18 a bottle

Ice Wine: $30

2008 Mary Michelle Chardonel – 13.5% alcohol, $18 bottle

Crisp, light bodied, with a granny smith apple tartness to it.

2008 Illinois Cellars Unoaked Chardonel – 12% alcohol, $18 bottle

Medium bodied, mild taste, light

Apple Wine – Bavarian Style – 11% alcohol, $15 bottle

Light bodied, smooth, apple tartness yet sweeter, reminds Chrissy of a Riesling.

Velvet Wine -12% alcohol, $15 bottle

Niagra Grape, heavy bodied, orange, crisp, fruity, sweet white wine.

Velvet Rose –12.5% alcohol, sweet rose wine, blush in color, light floral fragrance, smooth strawberry but with that strawberry bite at the end.

 

2010 Mary Michelle Norton – 12.5% alcohol, $18 bottle

Vanilla notes, leather smell, juicy almost like Welch’s grape juice , lightly oaked, light on the tannins.

2008 Illinois Cellars Norton– 13.5% alcohol, $18 bottle

Greene County Vintage, very crisp and spicy

They also offered a sweet red, Velvet Red (11.5% alcohol).

Lynn’s Wins:  Mary Michelle Chardonel – I enjoyed the tartness because it gave the wine a flavorful taste more so than the unoaked chardonel. Score: 3 glasses (out of 5)

Grafton Winery & Brewhaus, enjoyed by wine & beer drinkers alike

Grafton Winery & Brewhaus

300 West Main

Grafton, IL 62037

618- 786-3001

http://thegraftonwinery.com/Winery-In-St.Louis/

Hours:

Winery
M-TH | 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
F & S | 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday | 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Brewhaus
F & S | 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday | 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Inside of Grafton Winery overlooking rivers

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Location:

Grafton Winery is very easy to find. It’s on the main road that travels thru Grafton and the building is marked with large lettering. It’s a rather modern looking building and as we pulled into the parking lot we had a sense of fun and good times here. People were sitting on the roof top it appeared and music could faintly be heard.

Amenities:

On the main level with the brewery was a good size gift shop which you will find something for everyone in there, especially if they are remotely a wine enthusiast.  I found all sorts of kitchen decor, tshirts, handbags and well let me say this, my Christmas list is started.
Then up to the winery. There is a flight of stairs to go up or you can take the ramp located in the back of the brewery. As you enter that sense of fun and good times is confirmed. It’s very spacious. A large bar for wine tastings, to order food, or to purchase wine is easily accessible. The food is mostly like bar style food, but tasty, did I mention billy goat potato chips??? ha ha.  There was seating all around, it can be sectioned off and rented out for special occasions as well. Beyond all the seating on two opposite ends you can walk out of the clear garage doors onto good size decks that over look the parking lot, the main road thru Grafton and on to the Mississippi & Illinois Rivers.  A beautiful view as well as good times.  They have large televisions so you can stay in the know of your favorite show or sporting event. They had a very good band playing and when they were on break, light background music was playing. If you were simply there to chat you would want to grab a seat on the patio farthest away from the band.
If you wanted to have a special occasion here, I noticed in the gift shop you can have personalized wine bottle labels made. They offer so many unique and fun services. If you end up having to much fun there are near-by places to lodge that are within walking distance, that is if you can walk after having to much fun.. ha ha..

Brewhaus:
They have a brewery where they are currently brewing their own beer with quite a variety of flavors. The brewery, located on the lower level, has plenty of seating to meet up with your friends for a night out, a small gathering or party, or just grab a seat at the bar. The bathroom is handy and clean!!  You can enjoy a 16oz draft pint of their home brewed beer for only $5.00 ranging from Pilsner, Hefeweizen, Nut Brown, to Colaweizen and more…  If you’re not feeling adventurous they have a nice variety of domestic beers as well.  They seemed interested in getting the guest input on the drafts so try them out!!

Food:
And I can’t forget my most favorite part of it:  Billy Goat Potato Chips, did i mention YUM!! With or without a beer they are fabulous, lots of flavor and texture… Once I was hooked on those, they introduced me to the spicy ones, which normally I can’t do spicy, but I tried them and my love affair with them was made. The flavor was wonderful. I’m not normally a potato chip person but I bought a large bag of each to take home. This is of course after eating one each of their small cute bags… The billy goat potato chips are made just across the river in St. Louis. They offered other food as well like hamburgers and other bar food.

The Wines

By Lynn

At Grafton Winery they blend juices to make their wine. By doing this they have more options to choose from like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay that we can’t normally grow in our region.  They offer about 15 wines with some being seasonal.

Tastings cost: 6 Free, 1/2 oz. tastings

Deposit on glass: $3 (if returned your deposit is returned)

Cost of wine by glass: Mostly $6, Cabernet $7

Cost of wine by bottle: $14.05 to $23.31

The ones I tried include: ( Rating scale is based on 1 to 5 glasses with 5 being best)

Chardonnay – Very crisp & citrusy, lightly oaked, nice. It had won a Bronze Medal in 2011 in the New York Fingerlakes Wine Competition.  Rating: 3 glasses

Harbor White – A blend of Muscat, Vignoles, Seyval, & Vidal. Semi-dry, crisp white wine that goes well with many foods and for any time of year.  2 glasses

Harbor Red – A medium bodied, light berry colored well balanced blend of Cabernet, Red Zinfandel, and Syrah was delicious. It is the winner of the Bronze Medal 2011, F.I.W.C. Rating: 4 glasses

Cabernet Sauvignon – Ruby colored, smells of leather, buttery. Aged in French American oak barrels and would go great with chocolate. 3 glasses

Riverbend Red – A blend of grapes, strawberry colored, sweet, light bodied, concord grape flavors. 2 glasses

Apple Crisp – Clear, heavy bodied, crisp, apple all over, delicious.  Winner of a Silver medal in 2010 from the IL. State Fair & the 2010 Finger Lakes Wine Competition. 4 glasses

They also carry a Pinot Gris, a blush, blackberry, a red blend, four seasonal fruit wines, and a raspberry/chocolate dessert wine.

Lynn’s Wins – Harbor Red & Apple Crisp

Chrissy chose to drink the semi sweet, Harbor White, even though it wasn’t on the wine selection list. She took a bottle of the Autumnberry wine home which is one of their four seasonal wines. She says she is going to have to go back each season for the other seasonal ones. Autumberry is a raspberry flavor wine, which she normally thinks is gut-aching sweet, but this one was not, a perfect blend for fall. She gives them 3.5 grapes overall!!

The Midwest Winery Gals enjoyed our visit to Grafton Winery and will certainly be back again.

Ruebel on Main Reminds me of a Saloon from the 1920’s

Ruebel on Main

Hotel & Restaurant

217 East Main

Grafton, IL

618-786-2315

http://www.ruebelonmain.com/home.html

Restaurant Hours
Monday – Closed
Tuesday thru Friday – 4pm – 8pm
Saturday 11am – 9pm

Sunday 8am – 10am Breakfast
11am – 4pm Lunch
4pm – 8pm Dinner

Downtown Grafton from in front of Ruebel on Main

Restaurant Review

By Lynn

9/22/12

The location of Ruebel’s is right along the main street in town so people are walking by all the time.  Great location. The front of the building was so appealing that we felt we had to try it out. The interior was redone beautifully keeping with the old.  It looked like a high-end saloon from back in the 1920’s. There is a hotel attached to it that seemed to have a very nice entry as well. When we arrived at Reubel’s on a Saturday around opening time they must had got overwhelmed with about 14 to 16 people at once. The manager was a little distraught and was talking loudly to the employees about not seating anyone else inside or out until they catch up. She was turning people away at the door and we felt it wasn’t that busy. It might have been for them. The waiter was the manager’s son who was very courteous to us.  He informed us of a little delay, served us drinks, and came back just the right amount of times to not overwhelm us. We ordered the special of the day which was buffalo chicken. My husband enjoyed it as a sandwich and I ordered it with no bread being on a gluten free diet. He really enjoyed the flavor because it was pretty spicy.  The bread helped tone down the spiciness.  My serving was a little overwhelming with no bread.  I had to keep drinking my soda to cool my palette but it was juicy and the flavor was really good. The fries were seasoned nicely and crisp. Serving sizes were perfect as well as the garden salad I had.

They offered alcoholic drinks from the bar as well as your standard beverages. There was some outdoor seating that overlooked the river. Our experience at Ruebel’s was a good one and as long as the manager maintains her employees and issues out of sight of customers we will certainly go back.

Food & Service: 4 forks

Manager: 2 forks

Ruebel on Main Reminds me of a Saloon from the 1920's

Ruebel on Main

Hotel & Restaurant

217 East Main

Grafton, IL

618-786-2315

http://www.ruebelonmain.com/home.html

Restaurant Hours
Monday – Closed
Tuesday thru Friday – 4pm – 8pm
Saturday 11am – 9pm

Sunday 8am – 10am Breakfast
11am – 4pm Lunch
4pm – 8pm Dinner

Downtown Grafton from in front of Ruebel on Main

Restaurant Review

By Lynn

9/22/12

The location of Ruebel’s is right along the main street in town so people are walking by all the time.  Great location. The front of the building was so appealing that we felt we had to try it out. The interior was redone beautifully keeping with the old.  It looked like a high-end saloon from back in the 1920’s. There is a hotel attached to it that seemed to have a very nice entry as well. When we arrived at Reubel’s on a Saturday around opening time they must had got overwhelmed with about 14 to 16 people at once. The manager was a little distraught and was talking loudly to the employees about not seating anyone else inside or out until they catch up. She was turning people away at the door and we felt it wasn’t that busy. It might have been for them. The waiter was the manager’s son who was very courteous to us.  He informed us of a little delay, served us drinks, and came back just the right amount of times to not overwhelm us. We ordered the special of the day which was buffalo chicken. My husband enjoyed it as a sandwich and I ordered it with no bread being on a gluten free diet. He really enjoyed the flavor because it was pretty spicy.  The bread helped tone down the spiciness.  My serving was a little overwhelming with no bread.  I had to keep drinking my soda to cool my palette but it was juicy and the flavor was really good. The fries were seasoned nicely and crisp. Serving sizes were perfect as well as the garden salad I had.

They offered alcoholic drinks from the bar as well as your standard beverages. There was some outdoor seating that overlooked the river. Our experience at Ruebel’s was a good one and as long as the manager maintains her employees and issues out of sight of customers we will certainly go back.

Food & Service: 4 forks

Manager: 2 forks