Monday, August 2, 2010

Not That Garden!

Talking to a fellow last week who said he gardens. I was rather surprised at this florid-faced well over 300 lbs. man, but, he insisted he gardens most Saturday evenings. Huh - evenings??? With a hardy laugh, he told me he "Beer Gardens".

There are many kinds of gardens and gardeners and I enjoy learning about what makes it their passion and something about their products.

One type of garden, or better termed farm, is vineyards. Grape growing has become a micro industry in Illinois in the last several years. More and more, wineries are springing up and doing well.

Vineyards are not for those who want instant gratification. It takes money (doesn't everything) and time to grow just the right grapes for our climate and soil. Most grow for others - selling to places that have their own processing plants.

Conner's Kickapoo Creek Winery (Address: 6605 North Smith Road, Edwards, Illinois 61528 Phone: 309-495-9463 has both. When Dr. Dave Conner turned his farmland into a vineyard, it was the beginning of a nice combination of businesses. Their tours and other features are fun - along with the wine.

We often read about micro (beer) breweries but Illinois is marketing "Wine Country" and I wish them well. says there are over 90 wineries and over 450 vineyards in Illinois. Some of them (in addition to Kickapoo) close to this area:

  • Indian Creek Vineyard, Toulon IL
  • Wilitt's Winery and Cellar, Mantino, IL
  • Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, Mackinaw IL
  • August Hill Winery and the Illinois River Winery, Utica IL
  • Lavender Crest Winery, Colona IL
Wine growing in vineyards has it's own set of growing rules, but, in the end, it's farming. Something (farming) that's near and dear to Illinois rural America.

If you enjoy a glass of wine now and again, or just like taking a drive to enjoy the scenery, stop by your local winery.

As I've mentioned before and pictured above, my blue bottle tree (some call it by less than flattering descriptions) has inspired a couple of friends to donate bottles. One friend tells me she only drinks wine to help supply the blue bottles for my tree. That and a good beer garden are our laughs of the week.

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