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!

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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

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.