Growing Grapes in Illinois

Before the Prohibition, Illinois was providing over 25% of the total wine consumption in the entire United States. After the Prohibition, the region plunged to the lowest 10% of all wine-producing states in the country. Recently, though, the Illinois wine industry is gaining a comeback with over 50 wineries and 250 grape growers registered in 2005. Majority of Illinois grapes are used for making wine. Most of Illinois’ vineyards are situated in the southern hills of the region, where the grapes enjoy a rich, well-drained soil and a sunny climate. Vinifera varieties such as Pinot Noir and Merlot are not popular in Illinois because they are not as cold-hardy as the French and American hybrids. The major varietals grown in Illinois are Chambourcin, Vignoles, Seyval, Vidal, and Norton.

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