The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail was formed 18 years ago to promote awareness of the growing wine industry in Southern Illinois and attract tourism to the area. Today, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail consists of 12 wineries scattered throughout Southwestern Illinois.
Alto Vinyards, near Alto Pass was the first winery to begin selling wine back in 1987. By 1989 they had won their first medals in an international wine competition, and as of today they have won over 800 awards in national and international competitions. Pomona Winery, near Pomona in the far western corner of Jackson County, first began selling their apple wines in 1993 and opened their tasting room in 1995. That same year Owl Creek Vineyard began selling their wines to the public at their tasting room just east of Cobden.
Alto Vinyards, Pomona Winery and Owl Creek Vinyard teamed up with the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau to form the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in 1995. Von Jakob Vineyards joined Shawnee Hills in 1997 upon opening their Pomona tasting room. Over the following years, eight additional businesses joined the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, rounding out the twelve members that exist today. Each winery has a variety of wines ranging from sweet to dry, and a wide selection for any palate. Most now offer a food menu to keep their visitors around long enough to enjoy a few glasses or even a few bottles. Many wineries also schedule live music on the weekends, or host festivals throughout the spring, summer and fall.
If you aren't able to visit the wine trail this weekend, stop by your convenient Illinois Liquor Marts location to pick up a few bottles of your favorite Southern Illinois wines!