We’ve made a checklist of the best craft breweries and wineries in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Can you visit them all this season?
Cademon Brewing Co.
217 W. Main St., Genoa, (815) 827-6145, cademon.com
A balance of art and science is the foundation for unique recipes that embody perfect ratios of style and flavor. Welcome the fall season by trying the Evil Pumpkin Patch, which strikes a balance between locally sourced roasted pumpkin and the blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and clove.
Chain O’Lakes Brewing Co.
3425 Pearl St., McHenry, (815) 331-8345, chainolakesbrewing.com
Unfiltered, unpasteurized ales are served at the peak of freshness directly from serving tanks. Savor the subtle, smoky taste of the Fox River Scotch Ale, with an overall low hops character to highlight the signature malt profile.
Crystal Lake Brewing
150 N. Main St., Crystal Lake, (779) 220-9288, crystallakebrew.com
A proud-to-be-local brewery that sources grain and hops from local vendors. Try the fall seasonal Last Cast – a blood orange IPA that blends bright, citrusy hops with the bold flavors of the blood orange.
Emmett’s Brewing Co.
128 W. Main St., West Dundee, (847) 428-4500, emmettsbrewingco.com Also in Palatine, Wheaton and Downers Grove.
Traditional Belgian yeast strains, fresh-picked German hops and the finest British malts are globally sourced and locally brewed. Try the Munich Light Lager – a crisp and clean brew that’s light in body and low in hops bitterness.
1330 E. State St., Sycamore, (815) 991-9760
Respectful of pedigree, yet curious to experiment, this brewery balances classic and intriguing recipes. Sample the DuBelle brew, a Belgian beer with an appealing combination of orange peel, coriander and pepper ingredients.
New Glarus Brewing
2400 WI-69, New Glarus, Wis., (608) 527-5850, newglarusbrewing.com
A quaint brewery that utilizes 100-percent natural ingredients. For a seasonal favorite, try the Fat Squirrel, made with six varieties of malt, or opt for Spotted Cow, a year-round fun, fruity favorite.
Minhas Craft Brewery
1208 14th Ave., Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-3191, minhasbrewery.com
The Midwest’s oldest brewery and second-oldest in the nation. Leave your mouth feeling velvety smooth by trying the Lazy Mutt Chocolate Stout, with a roasted malt flavor, slightly sweet cocoa notes and a subtle hops bitterness.
Penrose Brewing Co.
509 Stevens St., Geneva, (630) 232-2115, penrosebrewing.com
Focused on Belgian-inspired session ales, oak barrel-aging and alternative fermentation. Drink the Devoir Saison Ale – a Belgian-inspired saison with citrus yeast esters and a subdued earth tone.
Pig Minds Brewing Co.
4080 Steele Dr., Machesney Park, (779) 423-2147, pigmindsbrewing.com
Rotating craft beers compliment the vegan pub fare. Order a pint of prunus – a bitter IPA brewed with peaches.
Prairie Street Brewing Co.
200 Prairie St., Rockford, (815) 277-9427, psbrewhouse.com
A 15-barrel brewery is the backdrop to Rockford’s premier destination for handcrafted beer and food. Try the Petritz Pale Ale – expressive with flavor notes of lemon and bubblegum.
Scorched Earth Brewing Co.
203 Berg St., Algonquin, (224) 209-8472, scorchedearthbrewing.com
Known for using local ingredients and producing whimsical flavors with Old World brewing techniques. Go for the Guildmeister – a German-style Kolsch brewed with the finest German malt and hops. It’s crisp, light and mildly fruity.
306 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 208-7070, stockholmsbrewpub.com
Your friendly neighborhood “vardshus” (tavern in Swedish) serving cask-conditioned, unfiltered brews. Try the Viking Red Ale – an amber ale with flavors of creamy, sweet malt and a gentle hops finish.
47W614 IL-38, Maple Park, (630) 365-0333, acquavivawinery.com
A pastoral palace that invites you to savor the sights, sounds and flavors of Italy, livened by a Midwestern pulse. A not-to-miss white wine is the Prairie Star, with delicate grass aromas and notes of tangerine.
DC Estate Winery
8877 State Line Road, South Beloit, (608) 481-1565, dcestatewinery.com
A family-owned and -operated winery that quenches the senses with luscious tastes, delectable aromas and a captivating setting. Try the DC Meritage ¬– a blended dry red that leaves chocolate and coffee notes on the palate with a long tannic finish.
Famous Fossil Winery
395 N. Cedarville Road, Freeport, (815) 563-4665, famousfossilwinery.com
Cultivating new and distinct wine traditions through cold climate, unique landscapes and Midwestern culture. The Fireside Red is a top pick – a port-style wine made from cold-climate varieties of Marquette and Frontenac, fortified with brandy.
Fox Valley Winery
5600 US-34, Oswego, (630) 554-0404, foxvallewywinery.com
Specializing in creating handcrafted, award-winning wines from Illinois grapes. The 2013 Barrel Aged Estate Chardonnay is recommended for its soft whispers of fresh oak, lingering spice and hints of crisp apple.
Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery
515 S. Main St., Galena, (815) 777-3330, galenacellars.com
477 S. Third St., Geneva, (630) 232-9463
A family-owned winery that produces award-winning red, white and fruit wines. A top pick is the Illinois Marquette, a combination of a light Pinot Noir-style grape, cherry tannins and a little bit of soft oak.
15 S. Roselle Road, Roselle, (630) 529-9463, lynfredwinery.com
An upscale bed-and-breakfast set in a vine-covered building on a winery estate. Be sure to enjoy Lynford’s Oktoberfest wine, a 95 percent Riesling and 4 percent Chardonnay blend that mimics some of Germany’s best sweet, food-friendly white wine.
Massbach Ridge Winery
8837 S. Massbach Road, Elizabeth, (815) 291-6700, massbachridge.com
117 N. Main St., Galena, (815) 291-6411
Known for award-winning wines and breathtaking views of northwestern Illinois’ hill county. A bestseller is the Velvet Hour – a rich, smooth and dark fortified wine made from Frontenac grapes.
New Glarus Primrose Winery
500 First St., New Glarus, Wis., (608) 527-5053, newglarusprimrosewinery.com
A wide selection of wines made primarily from Wisconsin-grown grapes and fruit. For a fall favorite, try the Autumn Wine – a light-bodied apple wine that pairs excellently with pork dinner.
Prairie State Winery
222 W. Main St., Genoa, (815) 784-4540, prairiestatewinery.com
Known for a philosophy of being good stewards of the land, the grape, the community and the consumer. The Chambourcin Reserve is a top pick; the 100-percent barrel-aged reserve uses the best grapes available from southern Illinois for a soft, rich finish.
Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery
2003 W. Hanover Road, Hanover, (815) 591-9706, rockywaters.net
A unique attraction found in the Mississippi River bluffs region where Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa come together. Sample the semi-sweet Pear Tree Blush, named for the vineyard’s own pear tree that’s been lending flavor to nearby grapes for 75 years.
401 Sheridan Springs Road, Lake Geneva, (262) 348-9100, studiowinery.com
Local and West Coast grapes are crushed, pressed, fermented and blended in small batches to become artisanal wines. A favorite is the AXL semi-sweet rose, with luscious flavors of pomegranate, sugared strawberries and a touch of tart sweetness.
Village Vintner Winery & Brewery
2380 Esplanade Dr., Algonquin, (847) 658-4900, thevillagevintner.com
Chicagoland’s only winery, brewery and restaurant has a casual dining atmosphere with an elegant selection of food, handcrafted wine and house brews. Sweet to sample is the Armore dessert wine, an intense, rich and savory wine that’s strong and spicy yet smooth in texture.