Whiskey & Wine
By Lisa Lubin

Whiskey & Wine

Finding the perfect drink in Galena Country

By Lisa Lubin

The perfect destination for any craft beer fan, wine lover, or appreciator of spirits, Galena Country is home to some of the top, award-winning wineries and vineyards in Illinois. Because of its unique geographic and topographic location in the lower portion of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, this area is an ideal spot to grow certain varieties of grapes. There are several wineries in Galena Country including the Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery, Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, Massbach Ridge Winery and Rocky Waters Vineyard/Winery, Inc.

But wine isn’t the only drink you’ll find. The local whiskey at the Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. is a must try for visitors who appreciate a stiff drink. Owned by Matt and Mike Blaum, two brothers who left their day jobs to pursue their passion for making spirits, the family-owned and operated craft distillery produces small batch premium whiskey, vodka and gin. The Blaum brothers source their grains from local Illinois farmers and handcraft spirits by meticulously controlling the entire process—from the milling of the raw grains, to the mashing, fermentation and distillation on their custom made copper still—essentially producing high-quality spirits the old-fashioned way. For example, their gin is made by individually distilling each botanical, like coriander and orange peel, before they are combined together and bottled.

Barrels of Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. whiskey
A group of friends enjoying whiskey drinks

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. offers tours every day, giving visitors a comprehensive look at the art of distilling. From their distillation area, to the barrel room, to a tasting room and cocktail bar, you can learn all about the entire process of how Blaum Bros. spirits are handcrafted in historic Galena Country at their 10,000 square foot facility. And it’s hands-on too—you will be able to touch, taste and feel the ingredients that make their spirits unique. Or you can just stop by the bar and tasting room for one of their own unique specialty cocktails created using their fine spirits.

One of the best times to check out these tours and tastings is during Galena Country’s whiskey and wine events, which specifically celebrate locally made alcohol.

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A sample pour of whiskey during Galena Whiskey Weekend

Galena Whiskey Weekend

In January, visitors can enjoy the falling snow and escape the wintertime chill by warming up inside during Galena Whiskey Weekend. With 150+ bourbons and whiskeys to taste, you can sip your way through an extensive collection of offerings and find your new favorites. But whiskey isn’t the only thing on offer. Pair your booze with delicious hors d’oeuvres created to compliment the smooth liquor.

If you want to purchase anything you like, the retail partner, Family Beer & Liquor , stocks all of the spirits tasted at the Grand Tasting, while supplies last of course! You can buy your favorites following the event, or you can place an order for free delivery to Galena Country area hotels and B&Bs. Even if you don’t go home with a bottle of your own, you’ll receive a Galena Whiskey Weekend Glencairn Whiskey Glass to remember your weekend. 

If after the Galena Whiskey Weekend Grand Tasting, you feel you are unable to get home or to your hotel safely, a taxi service is available.

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Wine Lovers' Weekend

Looking for a drink with a fruitier bouquet? Take part in one of Illinois’ largest indoor wine tastings at Galena Country’s historic Turner Hall. The annual Wine Lovers’ Weekend is a not-to-miss event for oenophiles and wine enthusiasts of all kinds and makes for a great girlfriends’ or couples’ getaway.

Featuring more than 40 distributors from across the United States and over 250 varieties of wine and spirits, the Grand Tasting is a wine lover’s dream. There are several opportunities during the weekend to attend a tasting. During each, attendees can enjoy strolling around from vendor to vendor and learning about the multiple wines on offer while enjoying generous pours of each. Tap your toes to the live music while you hobnob with other attendees and discover their favorites. Plus you can savor the different wines while nibbling on complimentary tasty cheeses, crackers, fruit and bread.

Also included in your ticket is a keepsake wine glass, plus entry into a grand prize drawing for a Getaway to Galena basket.

Designated drivers even get a discounted ticket, so you can still come for music and snacks if you are not drinking. For those partaking, it’s highly recommended not to drive, of course. To make that decision easy, a complimentary shuttle service is available to and from downtown Galena Country.

Test your wine-making skills by stomping on grapes
Enjoy a glass of wine at Massbach Ridge Winery

Besides the Grand Tastings, many other fun wine activities can be enjoyed throughout the Wine Lovers’ Weekend.

Tour all the local wineries with Galena Wine Tours. Learn the history behind the Upper Mississippi Valley Wine Region and Galena Country as a professional driver takes you to several local wineries including Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery and Fergedaboutit Winery. Besides all the wine and tours, you also get a lunch or dinner from Procento’s Pizzeria at Rocky Waters Winery and wine and cheese at Galena Cellars Vineyard. 

During the weekend, you can also partake in wine luncheons and dinners with live music, more fabulous vino and tasty food at local spots like Galena Cellars Winery and Fried Green Tomatoes.

Plus, craft brew fans shouldn’t miss the Beer Pairing Dinner at the Galena Brewing Company. Descend into the brewery’s cellar to enjoy a four-course meal paired with one of the deliciously crafted brews. It’s a fun evening of enjoying good food and drink with fellow foodies and beer-lovers. 

From the award-winning wineries to small batch spirits to the local craft beer scene, Galena Country is a great getaway for the food and wine lover. And thanks to these special events, you have an even better reason to plan your escape to Galena Country. Cheers!

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