On the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

April 28, 2012

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Cover of Clara Orban's "Wine Lessons: Ten Questions to Guide Your Appreciation of Wine" (detail)

Illinois has a surprising number of wineries, many of them in the southern part of the state where rolling hills glide into the Shawnee National Forest. Travelers can explore the wineries in this area—the state’s most important AVA (American Viticultural Area)—by car with maps and guidebooks to lead the way.

Wineries in this area continue to increase as interest in winemaking grows. A powerful engine for expansion is Southern Illinois University and its graduates, especially those in the sciences, who turn part-time student work into permanent careers.
 
For a state with rich soil such as Illinois, and occasional weather that is inappropriate for grapes, winemakers have been ingenious in finding varieties that produce good wines while still growing well in this climate. In this presentation, Clara Orban lists a few of these grapes and gives tasting notes.

Clara Orban is a certified sommelier and author of Wine Lessons: Ten Questions to Guide Your Appreciation of Wine (Kendall Hunt Publishing). Orban is writing A Guide to Illinois Wines, to be published in 2013 by Southern Illinois Press.  Orban is professor of French and Italian and chair of the Department of Modern Languages at DePaul University.

This talk was part of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance's fifth annual symposium, "Road Food: Exploring the Midwest One Bite at a Time." Other events from this symposium recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:

Marked for Life: My Travels on Route 66 in '53, with Terri Ryburn
State Fair Heirloom Recipe Contest, with Catherine Lambrecht
Mobile Food in 19th-Century Chicago, with Peter Engler
Food Trucks: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, with Louisa Chu
Will Success Spoil Regional Food?, with Michael Stern
The Drive-In Restaurant: Before and After the Dawn of Fast Food, Food Theater, with Mary Bergin
A Gopher Turned Badger Eats Hoosier, and Vice Versa: Midwestern Culinary Traditions in the Small-Town Cafe, with Joanne Stuttgen
What Happened to Horseshoes?, with Julianne Glatz
Pies on the Road, with Shirley Cherkasky
Ethnographic Food Writing, or How I Ate My Way Across Wisconsin and Lived to Tell About It, with Joanne Stuttgen
Culinary Tourism in the Land of Meat and Potatoes and Green Bean Casserole, with Lucy M. Long
Summer Vacations in Northern Wisconsin, with Kelly Sears
Born to be Mild: Oral Histories and Pathways of the Midwest Supper Club, with Dave Hoekstra
Farmers Markets of the Heartland, the Ultimate Road Trip, with Janine MacLachlan
On the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, with Clara Orban
Remarks by Marilyn Wilkinson of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art Curator-Led Tour

Recorded Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kendall College.