Enjoy and save: Why you should travel the wine trail in the winter

Hopping from winery to winery should become a winter activity, according to winemakers.

That is why wineries along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail are participating in the Winter Passport Program.

“Winter is a great time to enjoy the slower, quieter side of Illinois wine country and the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail,” Brandy Nance said, the Shawnee Hill Wine Trail executive director.

The goal is to allow people in the area to savor their favorite wines, all while saving big on wine, merchandise, food and more.

All you have to do is purchase a passport for $15.

Once you reach a certain number of stamps, your passport is your ticket for entry into a drawing for prizes along the trail.

You don’t have to reach all 11 to enter, however, the passports must be turned in by Feb. 28 to be eligible for prize drawings.

Wine Trail Prize Details

  • Visit 7 wineries: You will be entered to win Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Merchandise and $10 in wine trail bucks
  • Visit 9 wineries: You will be entered to win $100 off an overnight stay at Makanda Inn, $25 in wine trail bucks, and one free entry for one of the next Wine and Food pairing weekend
  • Visit all 11 wineries: You will be entered to win overnight stays at 5 different places along the wine trail, a free tour of the wine trail, $50 in wine bucks, and one free entry for you and a guest to the next Wine and Food Pairing Weekend. Those who visit all wineries will also receive a souvenir Shawnee Hills Wine Trail corkscrew that will be mailed once the event is over.

Prizes will be announced on March 11.

The passport is also your key to discounts along the trail.

Here is a closer look at what you can save on:

  • Alto Vineyards: 20% off all “to go” wine
  • Blue Sky Vineyard: Free bread and oil presentation with purchase of one bottle of wine
  • Hedman Vineyards: 10% off any “to go” bottle of wine and 20% off cases
  • Feather Hills Vineyard: 15% off any “to go” wine
  • Owl Creek Vineyard: 10% off your purchase
  • Kite Hill Vineyard: $5.00 off a “to go” bottle of wine
  • Honker Hill Winery: 10% off all “to go” wine
  • Hickory Ridge Vineyard: $5 off a bottle of “to go” wine
  • StarView Vineyards: 15% off a single food item
  • Von Jakob Vineyard: 10% off any appetizer
  • Pomona Winery: Free souvenir wine glass with purchase of a bottle of wine

Nance says this is also a great opportunity to enjoy and support local businesses.

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Nichole Cartmell

Nichole Cartmell

Nichole Cartmell is the reporter and producer for Heartland Weekend.