This Short Road Trip Is Must-Add To Anyone's Midwest Bucket List (Especially Wine-Lovers)

If you're in search of a quick getaway in the Midwest that involves indulging in some of the finest wines while admiring scenic views, then you're in for a treat. The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in Southern Illinois boasts several spots worth exploring. If you're a fan of small wine producers and enjoy trying award-winning vintages, you should add this trail to your bucket list. The Shawnee Wine Trail is dotted with numerous wineries that are sure to impress even the most discerning palates. You get to enjoy delicious wine in beautiful settings while learning about the winemakers and their processes.

But the trip isn't just about the wine. You'll also be immersed in the soul of Illinois as you take in the breathtaking beauty of the region's landscapes. Every turn unveils a new picture, from serene lakes and rivers to idyllic countryside scenes. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a day of enjoyment. Whether you're a wine connoisseur or simply love the beauty of nature, this road trip through southern Illinois promises a memorable adventure that you won't soon forget.

Start your day trip with charm and scenic views

Begin your journey at StarView Vineyards in Cobden, a family-owned winegrower nestled in the hills of southern Illinois. You can sample a variety of red and white wines, ranging from dry to sweet, and savor delicious small plates and sandwiches. They also regularly host live music performances and events throughout the year. Next, head towards the Pomona Winery in the heart of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. This winery specializes in incorporating locally grown fruits other than grapes, such as apples, strawberries, and blueberries. 

Next on your journey, head to Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass. This is southern Illinois' oldest winery, producing award-winning wines since 1988. Take in the gorgeous views from the upstairs Vine Deck, a 5,000-square-foot tasting room, and a tour of the nine acres of grapevines. It's pet- and family-friendly with a variety of events and bands on regularly for visitors to enjoy.

Before venturing to more vineyards, stop at the enchanting Giant City State Park in Makanda for a refreshing outdoor experience. The park is known for its impressive rock formations, particularly the towering bluffs of sandstone known as Giant City Streets, formed over 12,000 years ago. You can explore the well-maintained trails, try rock climbing, or enjoy nature's beauty with a peaceful picnic. 

Award-winning vineyards in southern Illinois

Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda is the next stop on this day trip. The Tuscan-inspired winery is located on a 13-acre estate and offers a variety of red, white, and fruit wines. Choose from a menu of appetizers, pizza, and snacks alongside a glass of cabernet franc or vignoles. Finish your trip at Feather Hills Vineyard & Winery back in Cobden. The boutique winemaker offers more than just wine. You can eat at their restaurant, Fork and Vine, sip on terroir-inspired wines, and end the day with a stay in one of their cozy cabins.

When planning your day trip, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, checking the wineries' opening and closing times is essential to avoid surprises. If you plan to visit with a group, make sure someone is appointed as a designated driver. Also, check if the wine destinations require reservations for a smoother experience. Savor each moment, one delightful sip at a time, and let the Midwest leave a lasting impression.