By Anna Lothson
As a reporter you get a lot of random calls and emails. A lot. Some positive, some negative. It's part of the job. But today I got an interesting email from an unexpected source.
In my article this week "Downtown Oak Park to host second annual 'Uncork Illinois' festival" I mention the region is home to hundreds of wineries. Sometimes as a reporter you throw out large numbers without enough thought. This week, however, I got called out on it. And I'm glad I did — because I learned a little something about the wine industry in Illinois.
The email I got today came from the founding member of the Illinois Grape and Wine Resources of Council. The group was started to "generate a demand for grape growing so potential vintners could rely on a supply of Illinois grapes," because it takes four years to get a wine ready crop," the founder told me.
The group sprouted from 35-40 wineries to 80, but was closed down due to funding cuts under former Governor Rob Blagojevich. I never knew the council existed.
I did learn from that source today that Illinois has more than 100 wineries and 450 vineyards across the state (so saying hundreds of wineries was a bit of a stretch). Still, Oak Park will host 16 of those this weekend at its Uncork Illinois event.
From what I heard about last year's Uncork event, it's one you don't want to miss.
It's unfortunate the council was shut down, but I'm glad to see the wine industry holding strong in the state. Hopefully Oak Park's event can prove its success too. The greatest thing about being a reporter is you never stop learning. So thanks for the note, Woody the wine guy.