Food, Wine, and Song

What is more enjoyable than a day filled with good food, a nice wine,
and some soul soothing music?

Shall we suggest to you...hmmm - The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail?

Not only will you be able to savor the distinct tastes of regional wines and a variety of food choices, many of the local vineyards are perfect venues for an array of music, from solo acoustics to larger bands. For several wineries, you'll see a music line up for almost every weekend.

Blue Sky Vineyard, one of the most beautiful wineries in the area, carries appetizers, sandwiches, soups, pizza, and desserts to go along with award winning wines, select beer, and my son's favorite, the Sangria. The crusty french bread served with the best dipping oil around is a tasty starter. 

Almost every Saturday and Sunday Blue Sky has live music. Settle in and listen either inside the huge detailed tasting room, or on the splendid sun drenched outdoor terraces. A couple that stayed at the Creole House remembers one musician in particular while on their romantic getaway.
"...enjoyed going to Blue Sky and listening to the spanish guitar player and then walking back to the comfort here...and walking through the winery just adds to the romantic aspect of it".
Orlandini Vineyard, just a stones throw to the south of Rocky Comfort Cabins, does not have a kitchen as of yet, but they do have the music. Now that the weather is warming up, they will have music outside probably every weekend. Music usually starts at 2:00 and ends at 6:00. Stop over at Orlandini's for a wine tasting.
Pepperoni Marina Cheese at StarView

Not too far of a drive from our place, Owl Creek Vineyard offers a complete cafe menu along with some really good wines. Growing in popularity is the new Apple Knocker Hard Cider. They are also picnic basket friendly if you would like to bring your own. 

Owl Creek has a nice, partially shaded, tiered back deck that leads down to a rather unique area for the band and musicians. I love this deck because it was built around a beautiful old oak tree. If you are looking for great wines, a more subdued, yet lovely atmosphere, Owl Creek Vineyard would be a perfect choice.
Ivas John on the deck, getting the crowd
going at StarView Vineyard

Pick up one of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail maps and put a big circle around StarView Vineyards as a destination.

Drawn in by the gorgeous setting, inviting wrap around porch, and fine selection of food and wines, day can slip into evening at StarView Vineyards as smoothly as the last few seconds of a sunset. Been there, done that!

StarView Vineyards presents a talented lineup of musicians most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On nice days the band will be out on the large back deck or down at the lower pavilion. If the weather has its own ideas, there is plenty of room to bring the festivities inside. Cooler days you might find yourself stoking the fire in the big stone fireplace.

Picnic basket and pet friendly, find a spot under the large old oak tree by the pavilion, pour a glass from a chilled bottle of Vignoles, and let life's stresses just drift away. 

The ambience at StarView Vineyards offers a perfect setting: a romantic backdrop to reconnect with your companion, or a way to remind yourself that you haven't forgotten how to have fun in the friendly, lively atmosphere.

Two other wineries that carry a consistent music schedule are Von Jacob Winery and Brewery in Alto Pass and Rustle Hill in Makanda. Von Jacob has a large indoor area for music and dancing. One event coming up is the Brews, Blues & BBQ Festival April 5th. Sounds like a good time! They also have a full restaurant. Call ahead and make reservations in the new dining room for dinner. 

Rustle Hill Winery has a beautiful two level building with an upper deck and ground level seating all around. Two outdoor band pavilions offer plenty of room for concerts and dancing. Since it stays open later than most wineries, Friday and Saturday nights are usually rockin' until 9pm. 

Owned by the Renzaglia family, Alto Vineyards, one of the oldest vineyards in the area, has recently doubled in size. My childhood has many memories of the Renzaglias. Taking the trail through the woods to their house on Lake Chautauqua, then swimming or just hanging out at the house was a treat. Of course, wine was always served at dinner. 

Alto Vineyards has a variety of wines that will please any palate. Live music and entertaining events coupled with yet another gorgeous view of the Shawnee Hills makes for another perfect wine trail destination. 

Join Alto Vineyards Sunday, June 8, 2014 for the Dawg Daze of Summer Super Shelter Spectacular. This event will have a live music schedule and festive atmosphere to help support animal rescue in southern Illinois. A great time and a worthy event! 

Attempting to condense all the good times waiting for you on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is rather challenging. There are just so many choices and so many more wineries, but I can do this. 

This may require a little more research. Be back later.

  It's a tough job, but somebody has to it!

Wine and Sunsets
Have you ever had real Swedish meatballs? I mean AUTHENTIC Swedish Meatballs? At Hedman Vineyards you will find some of the best food around! Authentic Swedish cuisine, more gorgeous scenery, a chilled Chardonel, and good conversation with the fascinating owners Anders and Gerd Hedman may be exactly what you need. Another don't miss stop on the wine trail.
Get on Hedman Vineyards mailing list so you don't miss one of the always sold out dinner events. 

Hickory Ridge Vineyard has occasional events and encourages you to bring in your own snacks or a picnic. They make 100% of their wines from grapes grown on their property. You'll find it is dog friendly with lots of places to roam. If you like an excellent dry red, you might find yourself taking home a few extra bottles from Hickory Ridge. The Norton, Widow's Kiss, Cab Franc...can you tell I like a good dry red? Not to be forgotten, there is a wide variety of sweet and semi-sweet wines from which to sample.

Just a mile away from Hickory Ridge Vineyard is the only winery that makes their wines not from grapes but from local fruit such as apples and berries...Pomona Winery. While there tasting these unique wines, ask about wine and meal pairings. When George and Jane describe how the Jonathan Oak wine can be used with locally harvested mushrooms in a white sauce or a cheese fondue, you'll find yourself mesmerized, and hungry.

Kite Hill Vineyards is only ten minutes from Carbondale off of Rt 127. Not really a music venue or place for dinner on the trail, but it is worth the trip. I do remember having a nice white Chambourcin that paired nicely with grilled salmon we fixed at home the same evening. Delicious. 

Another independent winery, but not officially on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is Lincoln Heritage Winery located in Cobden. Lincoln Heritage will have occasional reservations only classes on wine tasting or other events featuring food and wine. Bonnie and Homer love what they do and are happy to offer you a tasting of their variety of wines. I usually leave Lincoln Heritage with a decadent bottle of Chocolate Cherry Cordial. Oh my...

Monte Alegre and Ponce Cellars is the only vineyard within the city of Carbondale. It also is not officially on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail but it is definitely worth your time to stop in for a wine tasting. Many people in Carbondale aren't even aware that Monte Alegra is so close and such fine wines are right under their nose (pun intended!) Try the Chardonel, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin or Sangria Calata. 

It was at Monte Alegre that I first experienced the delicate balance between a good, deep, red wine and dark chocolate. I've heard they have new releases: Fond de Cave, Norton, and a port named Liquid Poetry. I haven't had these latest releases, but with Monte Alegre's solid reputation, I should put that on my to do list. All for the cause!

Every winery in the area truly deserves its own blog.

We locals are fortunate and can take the time to savor the nuances and distinct atmosphere of each vineyard.

Eli Taylor Performing at StarView Vineyard

Along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
Visiting the area? Plan many return visits so you can get a thorough taste of the 
southern Illinois' Shawnee Hills Wine Trail and find your own special place.


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