The winery that keeps on going

Forsee Vineyards and Winery

18165 North 4th Avenue

Coffeen, IL 62017

(217) 534-6347

 http://www.forseevineyards.com/

Hours of Operation:
Thursday – Sunday
Noon to 10PM, year-round

Chrissy’s Grapes:

Location, Arrival, & Lodging:
It’s a normal midwest drive for me to see mostly fields and not much along the interstate.  So, as you wind through the country it’s a WOW moment when you pull around the corner to see this diamond in the field.  The winery building has a lot of character and charm to it all alone.  Then to see it sitting among a beautiful vineyard in the country was just wonderful!  It was a nice surprise.  There’s hotel lodging in a local town if you’re traveling from afar which I would recommend to stop in Forsee to see for yourself!

Staff and Service:
Everyone we met was very friendly.  The bartender Lisa who assisted us with our wine tastings was very knowledgeable and helpful.  Anything that she couldn’t answer she asked someone else who did know.
Samples were unlimited and free and if you let her know you’re likes she was kind to lead you to some great recommendations.

Food Offerings: 
Currently they only offer appetizers which with the addition of a new fryer that smell was dominating the tasting area so they are in the midst of adding on again to accommodate a separate kitchen area. This should help with the smell.  They seem to be expanding very nicely.

Amenities & more:
I love the fact there are so many private and secluded areas you can sit and enjoy your wine and friends.  Above the wine tasting bar is a nice open loft with a variety of seating that could hold approximately 24 people and you can look out the front window over the vineyard or out the back window peeking into the wine making facility.  An additional enclosed room with a large television can also be enjoyed all year long with approximately 40 friends.  Lisa told us the outdoor covered deck that they enclosed with vinyl gets them through the cold months with a nice fireplace and heaters you could host a family reunion of about 90 members.  When the weather is nice the multi places to sit outdoors and take it all in is a perfect winery experience in my book.  Its a winery that keeps on going.  Everywhere you look there is a different sitting area. Take your pick!

I can’t wait to go back!

Chrissy’s Crushes:   The ambiance and setting!

View of the winemaking tanks from the upper level window.

 

Lynn’s Vine:

 

Wines and Winery

It’s pretty common to go to an Illinois Winery and find certain grape wines like Norton, Chambourcin, and a blend of the two. In the whites you will find Traminette, Vignoles, and Niagra.  So to find Corot Noir, a dry red, was very unusual.  It is a full bodied red, lightly aged in American Oak which gave it a buttery creaminess. It tasted drier to me than the Norton even though it was only 12% alcohol. It had a very long finish meaning the taste hung on in your mouth.

 

The wines ran between $14.25 to $26 a bottle and $4.25 to $5 a glass. Tastings were free.  The wines I chose to try were:

 

Norton – 2009 -$24 a bottle

It was deep ruby colored, good spice, dry as soon as it hit your mouth but had a nice finish. I enjoyed this Norton the most.

 

Okaw Red – $17 a bottle

Lighter strawberry colored, semi sweet red (12% alcohol), nice but I still enjoyed the peppery Norton better.

 

No. 76 – $15.75 a bottle

Why the number 76 for a grape name? It’s because they haven’t actually named it yet.  Researcher, Bruce Reisch from Cornell University, bred the NY76 grape in 1976. It is known for its winter hardiness and productivity and is similar in characteristics of a Gewurtztraminer or Muscat according to Reisch.  A contest to name it was held up until Aug. 6th and the new name will be released at the Viticulture 2013 Conference in February.

 

This grape is a dry white with a floral and apricot bouquet.  It has a long, dry finish.

 

Traminette –2011- $15.75 a bottle

This semi-sweet is a medium bodied, crisp white that tingles at the end! It is very similar to a German style Riesling. I enjoyed it very much.

 

Vignoles – $15.75 a bottle

Even though this wine is listed as sweet I was a little surprised that it tasted a little drier than expected. I would call it a semi sweet white. This one is on a limited release so get it now!

 

Niagra – $14.25  a bottle

I am definitely not a Niagra fan so it forces me to try it everywhere I can only because I am looking for that one that I REALLY like! As soon as I smelled this one, I knew it was Niagra.  The only way to know is by doing tastings as often as you can! To a point. Not such a good idea for breakfast though.  Sorry to say I did not enjoy this one like all the rest of the Niagra grapes from around the area. They compare this grape to the white version of the Concord grape.

 

Lynn’s Wins: the 2009 Norton- the dry spicy flavor was nicely balanced and it is the one I ended up with a glass of so it is my win for the day!

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.

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.