And, in 1979, what began as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’ led to the opening of the first winery in Illinois with seven varieties and 5,000 gallons of wine. Not only was Fred the founder of Lynfred Winery, he is considered ‘the father of the Illinois wine industry'. Considering there are now over 100 winery/vineyards in Illinois, that's quite remarkable! It is there in the basement of that home where the original wine tank still stands, beneath the rafters, that this winery began. In 1985, when his 1983 Chardonnay received a national award, he was on his way. He grew the winery by adding on to his original home there in Roselle. Fred died in 2011, but his winery and his legacy live on.
Arriving in front of a beautiful craftsman-style home with luscious ivy growing up the sides, we knew we were in a special place. That home, in short, is a beautiful representation of Lynfred.
|You are in for a big surprise when you go inside|
this beautiful craftsman style home. Look at that ivy!
|Louise getting her drink on...Red wine, of course!|
The Tasting Room staff is a delightful group of employees who obviously enjoy their jobs. Everyone was friendly, warm, and congenial during our visit. Our tasting was underway when Christina came to greet us. We were honored when she offered to give us a personal tour of the facilities! Of course we answered with a resounding, “YES!”
Our tour began by going through the massive oak doors previously mentioned. We were informed that these doors (over 100 of them!) were made especially for the winery in the same style as the Koehler house at the front of the winery. We entered one of the doors to venture down a beautifully crafted, wooden, winding staircase that led to the winery itself. We all commented that it would make a grand entrance for a bride on her wedding day! (And apparently it has!)
That led to the room that was lined with wine barrels filled with delicious and delectable Lynfred Wines! Not just a room, but a large room for parties and meetings with lovely lighting and ambiance for any occasion.
|Enjoying our wine samples in the Wine Barrel Room.|
The tiffany-style lighting there is gorgeous, and the smell
of oak barrels is a treat for the nose!
An arched hallway to our left led to the original basement of the house. This is where the winery began and where the original wine tank resides - a room of honor to us. To think that this beautiful place and a history of delicious wines began here in this room was inspiring!
|This massive arched hallway is the entryway|
to Fred's original wine tank in the basement
of the original winery.
We passed a special wine cellar that was under lock-and-key. There on the shelves were exclusive reserves of Lynfred wines that were tucked away by Fred. (Now that's where we'd love to hunker down during the Illinois tornado season!!)
|Fred's special reserve wines under padlock.|
Great place to be during tornado season!
Then we went to the “new” winery where the tons of fruits delivered to Lynfred are transformed into juice and put into the many steel tanks which are monitored and regulated by Winemaker Andres Basso. He is responsible for the purchase of fruits from all over the world, then producing the Lynfred Wines in the steel tanks so the fruit-of-the-vine (or the tree, as the case may be) can be bottled, then shipped from the Roselle location.
|This is off of the shop/tasting room. |
You can stand around the balcony
to see what's going on in the winery!
|Don't stand on this if you're wearing a skirt! |
The workers may get a show!
(Thelma's fear of heights caused her to stay back!)
Something of note was the “Lynfred Winery Cat” who had an affinity for red wine, like Louise. It was said that customers were ‘warned’ not to leave their glasses unattended, especially if it was filled with red wine. You just might return to find the glass empty, thanks to the cat! There must be some credence to the scientific research that says red wine helps your heart and can help you live longer – that cat lived to a ripe (very ripe) old age of 23!
On the way back to the tasting room, we visited the kitchen. We were surprised by the size of the oven which holds enough loaves of bread at one time to feed an army! There are classes here, as well as wine pairings, in the kitchen with Chef Chris Smith. Even though it wasn’t in operation at that particular moment, the smells emanating from that space were heavenly!
|The beauty of these stained-glass windows has to be seen|
to be truly appreciated...the photos don't do justice to them.
We made some very delicious purchases, including Viognier (“it’s fun to say!”) and bid a fond farewell to Christina Anderson-Heller and the staff.
|Look closely at the carving in the wood behind us...WOW!|
(L to R: Thelma, Louise, Christina, Alisa, & Sydney)
It’s safe to say that it may be difficult to find another place like Lynfred Winery. The staff, the location, the ambiance at Roselle, and the wines produced there make it an outstanding and phenomenal gem in the crown of Illinois Wines. We encourage you to visit any of the Lynfred Tasting Rooms. Look on their website for upcoming events, including Oktoberfest on October 5th & 6th! If visiting them isn't possible for you in the near future, simply purchase their wine from a nearby store. You will not regret it!
|Another "Thelma & Louise" Road Trip|
for the record books!