5 Must-Visit Wineries in Southern Illinois That Suprised Us

We’ve traveled the globe, tasting wines from Tuscany’s rolling hills to Mendoza’s mountains. Our palates have experienced some of the finest varietals known to humanity. So when someone suggested visiting the wineries in Southern Illinois, we nearly spilled our wine.

Southern Illinois? We anticipated wines that would make vinegar taste like fine Champagne. Our imaginations conjured flavors like “Eau de Cornfield,” “Essence of Tractor Exhaust,” or perhaps “Old Barn Wood with Hints of Rusty Nail.” We braced for the tastings—armed with euphemisms like ‘interesting’ and ‘unique’ for what we assumed would be liquid disappointment.

From Cornfields to Chambourcin – Exploring Wineries in Southern Illinois

But hold onto your corkscrews, because what happened next was more surprising than finding a pearl in your oyster. As we reluctantly raised those first glasses, bracing for impact, we were hit with a shock wave of… actual enjoyment?

This cabin in the woods with a hot tub is one of the best places to stay while visiting the wineries in Southern Illinois!

Yes, against all odds, the wines of Southern Illinois turned out to be not just drinkable, but downright good. It was as if Bacchus himself, the god of wine had decided to play a practical joke on our wine-snob sensibilities. Suddenly, we found ourselves swirling glasses with genuine appreciation, using terms like “velvety,” “well-balanced,” and “Wait, are you sure this is from Illinois?” without a hint of irony.

5 Wineries in Southern Illinois Worth a Visit

Join us, as we journey through the unexpected treasures of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail! We’ll introduce you to wineries that will challenge your preconceptions and tickle your taste buds. Perhaps, you’ll even rethink everything you thought you knew about Midwest wine.

From family-owned vineyards that feel like a Midwestern version of “Sideways,” to tasting rooms with views so stunning you’ll forget you’re in the Land of Lincoln, we’re about to embark on a tour that proves sometimes the best surprises come in bottles you least expect.

A tasting at Blue Sky Vineyards will make you feel like you’re sitting in the rolling hills of Tuscany!

So, let’s explore why Southern Illinois might just be the wine world’s best-kept secret. Okay, maybe it’s not the best-kept secret, but it’s definitely worth exploring with an open mind. Below are five wineries in Southern Illinois you have to visit. But before we get into that be sure to check out these lodging options!

🛌🍷 3 Fantastic Accommodations in Southern Illinois Wine Country

Check out these three amazing places to stay in Southern Illinois: 1.) a charming B&B, 2.) a private cabin with a hot tub, and 3.) a convenient city hotel.
    1. 🍃 Makanda Inn: As an eco-friendly retreat in Shawnee National Forest, Makanda Inn offers luxurious suites and cottages. It features organic meals, sustainable construction, and easy access to local attractions—guests enjoy the tranquility and comfort of nature.
    1. 🏡 Woodland Cabin With Hot Tub: Check out this new cabin in the woods with a hot tub, right by Starview Winery. Perfect spot to crash while hitting up Southern Illinois wineries. Two bedrooms, full kitchen, big porch, and fire pit. Chill in the hot tub, taste wines, or just relax.
    2. 🏨 Hampton Inn Carbondale: Clean, comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and great amenities like a big beautiful breakfast. Moreover, the Hampton Inn Carbondale is conveniently located for SIU visits and local attractions. Ideal for a safe, welcoming stay.

1. Feather Hills Vineyard and Winery

When it comes to visiting wineries in Southern Illinois, Feather Hills Vineyard and Winery is an absolute gem. It’s not just about the fantastic wines but also the amazing food options you can enjoy while tasting. Feather Hills really stands out because it offers some of the best food to pair with wines, out of all of the wineries, making it a top choice for a relaxing day out.

In terms of wineries, Feather Hills serves up some of the best food along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail!
Food Options

We always like to start with a wine tasting to find the perfect match for our meal, and Feather Hills checks all the boxes. Here are some must-try food options:

  • Charcuterie Plate: Local meats and cheeses that pair perfectly with any wine.
  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad: Crisp romaine, grilled chicken, parmesan, and croutons tossed in Caesar dressing—fresh and tasty.
  • Double Smash Burger: Two beef patties with cheese, sautéed onions, and pub sauce—super satisfying.
  • Fish & Chips: Beer-battered pollock with french fries, tartar sauce, and a lemon wedge—classic and delicious.

And don’t forget dessert! The Chocolate Chip Cookie & Milk Cake is to die for! See their menu here!

The vineyard offers stunning views and a relaxing vibe, perfect for enjoying a meal and wine. For wine recommendations, their Chambourcin Reserve is a must-try. Estate-grown, this medium-bodied wine is loaded with aromas of black cherry, raspberry, and espresso, with a smooth, silky finish. If you prefer something lighter, the Chardonel is a great choice. It’s unoaked, light, and fruity with crisp red apple and citrus notes.

Feather Hills Vineyard & Winery is ideal for a few hours of unwinding with great food and wine. You might want to check out a couple of other wineries on our list before settling down at Feather Hills to truly relax and enjoy the experience. It’s got everything you need for a delightful day out—excellent wines, mouth-watering food, and a beautiful setting.

2. Blue Sky Vineyard

In the rolling hills of southern Illinois, Blue Sky Vineyard offers a slice of Tuscany in the heart of the Midwest. As you make your way through the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, this picturesque winery emerges like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. It’s a close second to Feather Hills, but it has its own unique charm.

Upon arrival, you’re greeted by breathtaking views of lush vineyards and a serene lake, making it a perfect backdrop. The grand Tuscan-inspired building houses a spacious tasting room where you can sample a variety of wines crafted from locally grown grapes.

We’re enjoying a tasting at Blue Sky Vineyards!

Don’t miss their signature Chambourcin Reserve, which boasts rich aromas of dark fruits and a smooth, silky finish, or the crisp Vignoles, a refreshing wine with bright citrus and tropical notes. For a unique experience, try the Bollé, the region’s first sparkling wine.

Pair your wine with their delicious wood-fired pizzas or a gourmet charcuterie board on the expansive patio. These food options perfectly complement the wines and enhance the overall tasting experience. On weekends, you can enjoy live music while sipping your favorite vintage and soaking in the panoramic views.

3. StarView Vineyards

When you think about wineries, StarView Vineyards really stands out. It’s not just about their amazing wines but also the chill vibe that makes it a perfect place to hang out.

Start your visit with a wine tasting to determine which ones you love best. StarView Vineyards has a bunch of options that suit all tastes. And make sure you try some of their tasty food:

  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Warm Panera French bread served with a creamy spinach artichoke dip, topped with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese. It’s a total crowd-pleaser!
  • BBQ Nachos: Warm tortilla chips loaded with Ned’s Shed BBQ, nacho cheese, and drizzled with Ned’s Shed BBQ sauce. Add sour cream, salsa, and jalapenos on the side for an extra kick.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich: Straight from Ned’s Shed in Vienna, IL, this pulled pork sandwich is smothered in homemade BBQ sauce and served hot on a bun. Perfect with a side of pasta salad and chips.

If you’re into reds, you’ve got to try their Eclipse, a red blend. It’s packed with flavor and goes down smoothly. And if you prefer whites, check out their Chardonel—it’s crisp and goes great with lighter food.

4. Alto Vineyards

Open more days of the week than pretty every other winery along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, Alto Vineyards is a fantastic option for a tasting!

Alto Vineyards is a prime spot for a wine tasting, especially on weekdays when other wineries might not be open. Here’s why you should check it out:

  • Great Wine: With over 1,000 awards and a selection of 22 different wines, Alto Vineyards has something for everyone. Whether you’re into sweet whites or bold reds, they’ve got you covered.
  • More Open Days: Unlike a lot of other wineries that close on certain weekdays, Alto Vineyards stays open more often, making it super convenient for a tasting any day you’re free.
  • Awesome Atmosphere: The tasting rooms in Alto Pass and Champaign are spacious and chill, perfect for enjoying your wine. Plus, the live music and outdoor seating options make it a great hangout spot.

So if you’re looking to taste some top-notch wine in Southern Illinois, Alto Vineyards is definitely a great place to start.

5. Honker Hill Winery

When it comes to wineries, Honker Hill Winery stands out. It’s not just about the fantastic wines but also the welcoming atmosphere that makes it a perfect destination for a relaxing day out.

Honker Hill Winery has one of the best party atmospheres!

Perched on Williamson County’s highest point, this winery offers estate-grown wines and Shawnee National Forest views. It’s ideal for weekend relaxation, featuring live music, a cozy tasting room, and ample outdoor space. Adults can unwind with wine while kids enjoy the grounds at this family-friendly spot.

For wine recommendations, their Don’s Estate Vignoles is a must-try. It’s a crisp white wine that’s perfect for any occasion. If you prefer reds, the Woody Red blend offers bold flavors that are sure to impress.

Sip, Chill, Repeat

So if you’re looking for a cool weekend trip or a fun day out with family and friends, these Southern Illinois wineries are definitely worth checking out. You’ve got amazing views, great music, and of course, tons of delicious wines to try. It’s a great way to explore our local culture and maybe even discover a new favorite hobby. Plus, learning about wine is pretty interesting and could come in handy someday. Trust me, it’s way more fun than you’d expect!

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