Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekend Runaway: Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

Fall colors and fine wines in southern Illinois

Full_wine

Sure, fall foliage is nice. But like most things, it's even nicer with a healthy buzz.

Go on a Sideways-style tour of the “Napa Valley of Illinois” where 12 vineyards cozy up along a peaceful 35-mile drive through hills, forests, and farmland.

Located between the college town of Carbondale and the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail will have you seeing all kinds of color.

CRUISE
Head southwest from Carbondale to escape yet another exhausting Lincoln Park weekend. Your wine crawl begins at Blue Sky Vineyard, where samples of dry cabernet and sweet riesling are delivered in a luxurious Tuscan villa beside a waterfall and huge, open pavilion.
3150 S. Rocky Comfort Road, Makanda (618-995-9463).

EAT
You'll have worked up an appetite by the time you pull into Von Jakob Vineyard, where house-brewed craft IPAs and Hefeweizen make their way into your hands as live bands rock the terrace. Order up some pan-seared salmon, beef tenderloin medallions, and mussel fettucini as you toast to a sunset over the hills.
230 Illinois Highway 127, Alto Pass (618-893-4600).

SLEEP
Your crash pad is decked out in chic modern style at Rustle Hill Winery, where on-site luxury cabins overlook the pond and outdoor amphitheater through huge picture windows and decks built for sipping their award-winning chambourcin wines. See how many bottles you can collect on your slide into serene stupor.
$190-$220 for two-night minimum stay. 8595 New Highway 51 N, Cobden (618-893-2700).

TOUR
Brush off your hangover and head into nature at Giant City State Park, located just off the trail and surrounded by vineyards on all sides. Here you’ll find huge sandstone cliffs and panoramic bluffs where you can hike, horseback ride, or rappel — all of which can be enhanced by sneaking in some wine in water bottles.
235 Giant City Road, Makanda (618-457-4836).

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