Illinois Winter Wine Festival Adds Consumer Focus
Illinois’ major wine conference, The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA) Winter Wine Festival, attracted over 250 attendees to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield from January 31st to February 2, 2013.
This was the first year that the IGGVA conference featured programs specifically for wine consumers. The “Wine Lovers Workshops” for consumers included sessions on the growing Illinois wine industry, an introduction to regional grapes and wines, backyard grape growing, and a wine and food pairing exercise.
On Friday evening, The Winter Wine Festival also featured 12 wineries pairing wines with heavy appetizers. This Illinois wine tasting was open to the public for an admission fee of $25.
‘Adding the Winter Wine Festival to our Annual Conference sparked new excitement and interest in Illinois Wine,” according to Megan Pressnall of the IGGVA. “While the Wine Lovers programming tract was intended for the public, we were surprised by how many members of our industry were also interested in the topics presented. From the feedback we received, this is something we will definitely include and add upon for next year’s conference.”
During the IGGVA Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday night, the following new officers were appointed for 2013:
Joe Taylor, President (Owner, Sleep Creek Vineyards)
Terrie Tuntland, Vice President (Co-owner, Waterman Winery)
Incoming president Taylor said one his main objectives for the IGGVA is to continue the work of outgoing president Bruce Morgenstern to make the organization more self sustainable during a period of declining state funding. Profitable IGGVA sponsored events like the Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Festival and Vintage Illinois have attracted record crowds while growing demand for Illinois wine. “One thing the Illinois wine industry offers the consumer today is a diversity of quality wines,” Taylor said. “There is truly something for everybody and we need to continue to reach out to consumers.”
Each year, the IGGVA awards individuals who have made a special and lasting contribution to Illinois wine. The following professionals were recognized at this year’s conference:
Winemaker of the Year — Rick Mamoser, Prairie State Winery
Grape Grower of the Year — Gordon Cantrell, Village Vineyard and Winery
Friend of the Industry — Bill Shoemaker, retired University of Illinois Extension St. Charles
Lifetime Achievement — George Majka, Pomona Winery
The IGGVA also had a special remembrance to the following industry members who have passed away recently:
Dr. Matthew Bretz– Founder and owner of Bretz Wildlife Lodge and Winery and Wildlife Cabins in Carlyle, Illinois. (1960-2012)
Gary Orlandini– Founder and owner of Orlandini Vineyard in far Southern Illinois (1948-2012)
Phyllis Collver- Co-owner of Collver Winey in Barry, Illinois (1934-2012)
Bob Rohden– Winery consultant, Chicago restaurateur and an early supporter of Illinois wine