Welcome to (suburban) wine country: Local wineries offer mix of outdoor tastings, tours

  • Rudy Valentino, owner of Valentino Vineyards & Winery in Long Grove, shows off some of the Sangiovese grapes he grows.

    Rudy Valentino, owner of Valentino Vineyards & Winery in Long Grove, shows off some of the Sangiovese grapes he grows. Courtesy of Valentino Vineyards & Winery

 
 
Posted8/5/2020 6:00 AM

If the pandemic dashed your dreams of winery tours in Tuscany, or even a long weekend in Napa, you don't have to give up on picturesque patios or romantic vineyard views: There are wineries right here in the suburbs.

Some feature tours of the vineyard, while other wineries offer outdoor tastings or wines by the glass.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's like touring wine country right in your own backyard," says Christina Anderson-Heller of Lynfred Winery in Roselle.

Coming upon the Valentino Vineyards & Winery in Long Grove can make visitors feel transported to wine country.
Coming upon the Valentino Vineyards & Winery in Long Grove can make visitors feel transported to wine country. - Courtesy of Valentino Vineyards & Winery

While Lynfred has no vines to tour, its Roselle location offers wines by the glass with the glass to take home as a keepsake. And at Lynfred's Wheeling location, tastings on the patio are offered by reservation to control the number of guests.

While some wineries buy their grapes to produce wines, others grow theirs right here in the suburbs.

"Illinois grapes make great wines. It's just accepting that they won't taste exactly like a California wine, but they do have similar attributes," says Deb Trombino, an owner and chief winemaker at Vigneto del Bino Vineyard in Antioch.

Vigneto del Bino workers grow many of their own grapes, but they also buy grapes from Washington, Southwest Michigan and Southern Illinois, among other places.

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"People come for the experience, and we talk about the wines while people are doing the tastings," Trombino said. "People can experience the wines of an Illinois vineyard."

Rudy Valentino, owner of Valentino Vineyards in Long Grove, offers vineyard tours, outdoor wine tastings and a wine appreciation seminar. Right now, you can do all three at a 50% discount.

"I've been to Napa and Italy, and nowhere do you get the information we offer. You learn a lot with that seminar," Valentino said. "Our wines are all estate-grown and produced. That means we don't buy grapes from anyone. We grow the grapes, crush and barrel ... we do everything here start to finish."

A previous harvest of Bianca grapes is lined up and ready for the winery.
A previous harvest of Bianca grapes is lined up and ready for the winery. - Courtesy of Valentino Vineyards & Winery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And at Valentino Vineyards, you'll see and taste wines made from the homegrown Marechal Foch grapes.

The La Forge Family Vineyard is on a small plot of land in a residential area of Warrenville. Tours of the vineyard are free but by appointment only, and the property is not licensed for tastings. You can order online and pick up curbside.

Most of these places offer outdoor events and outdoor wine tastings, though it's best to call ahead for reservations and to check on hours and verify events. Guests wearing face coverings are welcome indoors to purchase wines by the bottle, and the wineries offer curbside delivery if you call ahead and order.

Here are a few suburban wineries to check out:

Valentino Vineyards

5175 Aptakisic Road, Long Grove, (847) 634-2831, www.valentinovineyards.com

Hours: 4-7 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call for an appointment Monday through Thursday.

Cost: Wine tasting: $15; tour, tasting and appreciation seminar: $30

Tours: By reservation only and weather permitting on Saturday and Sunday

Visitors can tour Valentino Vineyards in Long Grove by appointment.
Visitors can tour Valentino Vineyards in Long Grove by appointment. - Courtesy of Valentino Vineyards & Winery
Lynfred Winery in Roselle

15 S. Roselle Road, Roselle, (630) 529-9463, www.lynfredwinery.com

No tours are offered at this time.

Hours in Roselle: Noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; by reservation only Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Cost: A 9-ounce pour of wine by the glass is $15 for nonmembers and $10 for members, which includes the glass to take home

Lynfred Winery in Wheeling

971 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, (847) 229-9463, www.lynfredwinery.com

No tours are offered.

Hours in Wheeling: Noon to 8 p.m. daily; tastings on the patio are by reservation only.

Cost: Four tastings for $7.50 and eight for $15.

Vigneto del Bino

42150 N. Crawford Road, Antioch, (847) 204-7352, www.vignetodelbino.com

Tours: Not available at this time

Hours: 2-7 p.m. Friday, noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Four tastes for $5 and six for $7

Info: email debtrombino@vignetodelbino.com for reservations and other questions

La Forge Family Vineyard

3S281 Williams Road, Warrenville, (630) 740-7566, lfvwarrenville.com

Tours: By appointment only; no tastings on the premises

Cost: Free

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