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!

WOW! A winery that offers 30 to 40 different wines!

Schorr Lake Vineyard & Winery

1032 South Library Street

Waterloo, IL  62298

618-939-3174

10/13/12

Chrissy’s Cluster:

Arrival :

What a beautiful day the Midwest Winery Gals were blessed with!! Fall colors everywhere and the sun shining, nothing like a perfect winery day!! Well, pretty much that’s any day but today was picturesque!!
We traveled Route 3 South of Interstate 64 towards Waterloo, IL.  Fall is a beautiful time of year in southern Illinois!  Especially when you turn onto the country road that takes you to Schorr Lake Winery.  You first pass a vineyard on left then the fence and entrance!! It’s very inviting and warm.  I commented how it looked as if one time it was a home transformed into a winery.  You get to see the large red building which is where they make the wine, then there were a flock of the largest geese I’ve ever seen laying with their heads tucked in right next to a beautiful large white dog.  It was all so beautiful and peaceful and yes out in the country outside the winery. To help with those of us that get confused easily there is an iron trellis that says winery.
Amenities & Staff:

We walked onto a large scenic patio with alot of seating, an additional lower deck and a upper balcony.  Very spacious and perfect place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine on this beautiful day!  There is enough room to have a bachelorette, birthday or any special event outside while enjoying each other and nature.  Then inside we were greeted by two very helpful and pleasant bartenders and they were pretty knowledgeable about the wine. We felt right at home with their wonderful hospitality!  There was plenty of room inside for a group meeting, small gathering or private event. Beyond the tasting room was an additional room with 8′ long tables, this could even be a good place to drink wine and meet friends in the winter.  They had a small gift shop that offered wine related items and themed accessories, gift baskets, gift certificates & a clean bathroom which is always a bonus in my book!!

Wines:

During our wine tasting which was free of charge, they offered 30-40 different wines. You could help yourself to water and crackers which is always a nice gesture.  I also noticed they offered microwave popcorn and 12″ pizza and even welcomed you to bring your own picnic to enjoy with the wine.

I sampled:

2009 Cayuga – semi dry, light, crisp, and refreshing, but I was in the mood for something sweeter today!  So onto the semi sweets which started at 4% sugar and went down to 3%.

2011 Vidal Blanc which was also light and crisp but had an interesting flavor that I couldn’t put my finger on. But I enjoyed it which I usually do enjoy a good Vidal Blanc.

High Prairie Blush which was very similar in color, smell, and taste to a White Zin. I wasn’t a huge fan but maybe because I was in the mood for sweetness?

2008 Vignoles was again light and crisp and golden in color a great fall day wine!

2008 Traminette had a great citrus smell, was light bodied and smooth.

Fredonia, which I had never heard of and which we were told is a unique grape to this area, had a very light Zin like fragrance with a sweat tart taste. It hit my pallet first sweet then tart, a surprise to what I associated the smell with.

2001 Golden Muscat was a very golden color, a little heavier bodied wine, crisp, and just a hint of the sweetness I was looking for today.  But I ventured on to dip into the sweet wines a little.

2002 Delaware which was 6% sugar was very light in color, smell, and taste to me. I was told they use this in the slush they offered called the Lime a Rita and the Blueberry Pomegranate, which I was more of a fan of.

2011 Raspberry Kiss & Strawberry Kiss both contain heavier flavor additives, the taste to me was not as good as having the fresh fruits in them.

2010 Old Fashion Concord smelled like Concord but didn’t have the dominating, Concord taste they typically do.

Lastly they have a variety of fruit wines, the Peach, Blackberry Vidal and Ice Wines were sold out, but I did try the Blackberry Port, which I’m not a port drinker, I have to say it was very tasty!! The bartender told me it was 18-20% alcohol and lighter than a typical port and very crisp definitely a sipping wine per Lynn.

2003 Raspberry wine was very sweet and heavy, seemed to be more like a dessert wine.  I was intrigued to see a 2010 Pepper Wine, which you’re welcomed to sample but it’s marketed primarily for cooking.  Since I’m not a cook I left it there for the more experienced kitchen experts.

Chrissy’s Crushes:  Since I was in the mood for something a little sweet I went with the Golden Muscat and the Vidal Blanc, both were perfect for enjoying the deck on a fabulous fall day while music on the radio played in the background and groups of friends gathered and animals roamed free.
I would definitely come back!

Chrissy’s Score: THREE GLASSES!!

Lynn’s Vine:

Wines:

At Schorr Lake Winery, the Midwest Winery Gals had the opportunity to enjoy about 20 wines together! Holy Cow! They had a lot to offer. Tastings were free as well. The bartender was courteous and informative. She helped us quite a bit. The wine server told me that ALL the wines across the board are 12% alcohol except one.

There bottle prices ranged from $9.95 to $19.95 (most were in the $10.95 to $13.95). Most glasses were $5 except the Chambourcin which was $6. Scores:  1 to 5 glasses…5 being best.

I sampled:

Vidal Blanc – 2011- 0% sugar, clear, light bodied, dry, lingering finish  

Seyval – 2011- 0% sugar, dry white, light

Vignoles – 2010- 0% sugar but tasted a little sweeter, golden color, light bodied, very tasty

Sunset Red – 2011Chambourcin aged in stainless steel tanks, 0% sugar, fruity but lighter

Schorr Lake Red –2008- Chambourcin and Cynthiana grapes, started sweet, WOW! A mouthful of flavors, peppery, long finish

Chambourcin – 2006 –Aged in American Oak, ruby color, berry smell, black currants, heavy bodied, won a bronze award. This is the one I ended up with.

Cynthiana -2000 – aged in American Oak , 0% sugar, smells of pepper, brownish ruby – you could tell it was an older wine by the color, heavy bodied, nice finish – light on tannins.

Cayuga – 2009 -1 1/2 % sugar, semi dry white, clear, nice & smooth

Marquis -20101% sugar, semi dry, light bodied, nice finish

Fredonia – 2011 – Mostly grown in the North Eastern part of the US, rare around Waterloo but they grow it on their estate, semi-sweet red, 3% sugar.  They call it a sweet tart because it starts off sweet and then you get the tartness.

Lynn’s Wins:  2006 Chambourcin – 3 GLASSES

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.