By Anna Lothson
Illinois, notoriously known for its rich corn and soybean fields, isn't a place most think of for unearthing fine grapes. The region, however, is home to dozens of wineries.
And 16 of those will be showcased at Downtown Oak Park's second Uncork Illinois event this weekend that brings wine aficionados from across the area to a new tradition that is already displaying enormous popularity.
Shanon Williams, DTOP's marketing director, said the event hit its maximum number of vendors this year and a handful of others were left wanting to join. The event has already pre-sold 300 tickets; last year organizers sold 2,000 glasses and close to 3,000 people attended, Williams estimated.
The event debuted last year and was tied to the same weekend as the Wright Plus Housewalk. The turnout was so strong, organizers decided to bring it back.
"It was so successful we realized it could stand on its own," Williams said.
Uncork Illinois will be held from 1-9 p.m., Saturday, June 1, on Marion Street, between Lake and North Boulevard. Participants can purchase a $20 souvenir glass ($15 in advance online) and will receive seven tastings from local wineries. Wines will also be available by glass or bottle and additional tasting tickets are $1.
Profits from the event will go to Wonder Works, an Oak Park children's museum that focuses on creativity and imagination in children through art, performance and building.
Live jazz selected by WDCB, the jazz station out of the College of DuPage, will be provided as entertainment and the event will also showcase locally produced gourmet food items to purchase or sample. The eateries and bistros on the street will be open for business during the event.
"It's a big draw. It's all local Illinois wineries," Williams said. "People love wine. …I think it's going to be one of our signature events."