Vintage Illinois Breaks More Attendance Records
The 9th annual Vintage Illinois, the largest wine festival in Illinois, was held September 15th and 16th at Matthiessen State Park in north-central Illinois. This year, 28 wineries participated in Vintage Illinois, the same number as last year.
Attendance on Saturday was approximately 6,000 and attendance on Sunday was approximately 4,000, according to Vintage Illinois organizer NoJo Sawin of August Hill Winery. Sawin said that Vintage Illinois sold 7,228 wine tasting glasses this year, an all-time record for the festival.
The first price increase in the history of Vintage Illinois was instituted for 2012. A commemorative glass and five tastings was $20 this year. Previously, the glass and seven tastings were $15. During this year’s event, a new general admission ticket was sold for $5 that did not include tastings or a glass.
According to Jill Joyce, also of August Hill Winery, the price increase was necessary to cover the increased costs of the event. A portion of the profits from Vintage Illinois goes to support the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association.
The event space was expanded this year although no new wineries were added, according to Vintage Illinois coordinator Maria Mamoser of Prairie State Winery. She said that Vintage Illinois would like to eventually accommodate the wineries on the exhibitor wait list.
Currently, Mamoser said there are no plans to move the event from Matthiessen but discussions about how to better use the existing space are ongoing. “We started Vintage Illinois with just 12 or 13 wineries, and as it’s grown, we’ve worked with the State to make improvements to electricity, water, sanitation and parking,” she said. “We’d like to continue to grow the event naturally with the main goal being to promote Illinios wine.”
Until 2007, Vintage Illinois was held at the larger Starved Rock State Park but recurring flooding at that location on the Illinois River prompted the change of venue in 2008.