Sip, taste & savor: Lynfred Winery opens new tasting room in downtown Highland Park
Cherry port wine with brandy spirits, dispensed from an oak barrel, is among the wines being served at Lynfred Winery's new downtown Highland Park location.
"It's further expansion for us, and we've been looking for and identifying different areas where Lynfred would work, and Highland Park sounded like a good location for us," said taste room manager John Elder.
Lynfred Winery opened in Roselle in 1979, and more than 80 varieties of wines and 30,000 cases are produced there from grapes shipped from domestic and overseas vineyards. A Wheeling location opened in 2008, and there is a Tasting deVine location in Wheaton and a Tasting deVine Cellars in Naperville.
A "soft opening" for the Highland Park location at 1823 Saint Johns Ave. was held June 6, with a grand opening celebration set for Wednesday, July 20.
"We've been in Lake County now for 14 years," said Matt Phillips, director of tasting room operations. "Ten percent of current membership lives in or around Highland Park, so that was a driver for us since we already had sort of a built-in member base."
Proximity to Ravinia Festival and activities taking place in downtown Highland Park were also factors in the decision to open a tasting room in Highland Park.
"Just having the opportunity to be part of the community at large was something that was appealing to us as we were looking for a new spot to open up our tasting room," Phillips said.
The tasting room is open to the public, though a wine club membership is offered as well.
"Each month members receive a bottle of wine. So $19 or $20 gets them their bottle each month, and with that their membership benefits, including preferential pricing on wine experiences, wine flights and wines by the glass. They can also get discounts on case purchases, bottle purchases and then access to members-only events and spaces," Phillips said.
"So anybody is welcome to come in here, but members are going to get a little more access and also better pricing."
Lynfred offers wine education, tips on food and wine pairings, and also will be collaborating with local businesses on a variety of programs.
"We produce 80 or so varieties. A little bit of everything. Whites, reds, port-style, ice wine and our fruit wines as well," Phillips said. "We'll help tailor a wine flight experience, sort of test their palate, see where they're at, and along the way we can provide them with education about the production process that went into it, pairing recommendations, other ways to approach the wine, how to smell it, how to taste it."
Among the food offerings are cheese boards, which come from a Villa Park supplier, and pretzel crackers, which are made in Downers Grove.
Previously occupied by a coffee and gelato bar, the space took just under three months to get ready.
"The major advantage we have at Lynfred is we have a full-time, in-house carpenter. The wine racks are all custom-built for this space, so that was a major boon for us," Phillips said.
One of the three oak barrels behind the bar contains a cherry port wine made with Montmorency cherries from Door County, Wisconsin, with brandy spirits added.
Phillips said the wine has a bit of a chocolaty-cherry flavor.
"What's really cool with this wine is cherry wine was the first commercially produced wine for Lynfred Winery when we opened 43 years ago. So we really feel like it's a nice homage to the past when we opened up a new store to feature the cherry port," Phillips said.