Lake County Libation Trail beckons with breweries, wineries and more
If the promise of fine wine, spirits and hearty beer isn't enough to entice you to travel the Lake County Libation Trail, consisting of more than two dozen breweries, distilleries and wineries, maybe another incentive will.
Beginning Friday, April 9, the Lake County tourism bureau revives the Check-In Challenge. The challenge is a 10-day, semiannual event where beer and wine lovers visit venues along the Libation Trail and log in their presence on-site through a mobile app for the chance to win gift cards, tours and overnight stays.
"We like to participate in events that bring new faces to the brewery," said Mark Yarbrough, taproom manager of Tighthead Brewing Company in Mundelein. Along with more than 20 Tighthead brews, cider and hard seltzer options, the brewery has food trucks on weekends and welcomes dogs and their owners on the patio.
Like other participating venues, Tighthead adheres to state-mandated COVID-19 precautions requiring face coverings when patrons are not sitting at a table, as well as socially distanced seating and reduced capacity.
"We sanitize everything between customers," said Yarbrough, adding that with 12 tables inside, 12 outside and 10 in a heated tent "we have plenty of room to accommodate everyone."
Beers featured during the challenge are the Plasma Shatter, a West-coast style IPA; Old Boys, a group of barrel-aged offerings; and Five Eyes, a honey ale brewed in collaboration with the Marriott Resort in Lincolnshire.
Among the 16 signature beers on tap at Buffalo Creek Brewing is a pilsner called Tigers Blood. Set to be tapped on Saturday, April 10, the beer contains "all the tropical fruits you can imagine," said director Josh Czarnik.
Buffalo Creek's size, 17,000 square feet, makes the Long Grove venue a "destination brewery," said Czarnik, adding "We offer more than beer. We offer atmosphere."
That includes a socially distanced spring break party on Saturday, April 10, with beach games, a DJ and food trucks.
If you prefer a more subdued experience, Valentino Vineyards in Long Grove offers a combination vineyard tour, wine tasting and wine appreciation seminar for $30 per person, by reservation on Saturday and Sunday. Wine tastings only, featuring flights of five different varieties, are $15 per person by reservation.
The tastings feature at least two of the winery's award-winning varieties, which are estate-grown in the 20-acre vineyard, said owner Rudolph Valentino DiTommaso.
"Everything is grown and produced here," he said of the winery, which is currently open weekends until it officially opens for the season next month.
For information on the Lake County Libation Trail Check-In Challenge and the participating venues, text "CHEERS" to (224) 706-1133 or see experience.visitlakecounty.org.
Participating breweries include:
Bosacki's Brewery: 610 E. Hawley St., Mundelein, bosackisbrewery.com
Buffalo Creek Brewing: 360 Historical Lane, Long Grove, buffalocreekbrewing.com
Half Day Brewing Co.: 200 Village Green, Lincolnshire, halfdaybrewing.com
Harbor Brewing Co.: 811 Sheridan Road, Winthrop Harbor, and Lakefront Craft Biergarten, 701 North Point Drive, Winthrop Harbor, harborbeer.com
Light the Lamp Brewery: 2 S. Lake St., Grayslake, lightthelampbrewery.com
Mickey Finn's Brewery: 345 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, mickeyfinnsbrewery.com
Nightshade and Dark's Pandemonium Brewing: 216 W. Clayton St., Waukegan, facebook.com/nightshadeanddark
Only Child Brewing Company: 1350 Tri State Parkway, Suite 124, Gurnee, onlychildbrewing.com
Phase Three Brewing Co.: 932 Donate Court, Lake Zurich, phasethreebrewing.com
Ravinia Brewing Co.: 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, raviniabrewing.com
Roaring Table Brewing Co.: 739 W. Route 22, Lake Zurich, roaringtable.com
Side Lot Brewery: 110 Slocum Lake Road, Wauconda, sidelotbrewing.com
Tighthead Brewing Company: 161 N. Archer Ave., Mundelein, tightheadbrewing.com
Wild Onion Brewery: 22221 N. Pepper Road, Lake Barrington, onionbrewery.com
Wright's Brew & Bistro: Marriott Lincolnshire Resort, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, chicagomarriottlincolnshire.com
ZumBier: 3232 W. Monroe Ave., Waukegan, zumbier.com
Valentino Vineyard owner Rudolph Valentino DiTommasso shows off the fruits of his Long Grove winery's vines.
- Courtesy of Valentino Vineyard
28 Mile Distilling Co.: 454 Sheridan Road, Highwood, 28miledistilling.com
Copper Fiddle Distillery: 532 W. Route 22, Lake Zurich, copperfiddledistillery.com
North Shore Distillery: 13990 Rockland Road, Green Oaks, northshoredistillery.com
Oppidan Spirits: 220 W. Clayton St., Waukegan, oppidanspirits.com
Glunz Family Winery & Cellars: 888 E. Belvidere Road, Grayslake, gfwc.com
Lynfred Winery: 971 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, lynfredwinery.com
Valentino Vineyards: 5175 Aptakisic Road, Long Grove, valentinovineyards.com
Vigneto del Bino Vineyard & Winery: 42150 N. Crawford Road, Antioch, vignetodelbino.com