A group of friends started making wine in Chicago over ten years ago. We all have roots with parents or grandparents that made homemade wine for family gatherings as far back as our Eastern European relatives. Carrying on family traditions and our love of wine has been our driving force. As time went on we continued to fine tune our wine making skills and decided to slowly evolve our hobby into artisanal wine making. It is truly a labor of love and we look forward to sharing with you, your family and friends.
Our Wine Story
We set our sights on finding the perfect location in the Chicago area that brought together the classic feel of old French and Italian wineries which can rival all other Illinois wineries. We were fortunate to find a hidden gem property in Joliet that was the former headquarters for the Joliet Catholic Diocese. A really unique picturesque property on a bluff overlooking the Des Plaines River Valley. The property included a castle-like residence built by a former German Brew master. It has been completely restored to its former glory. The castle is now available for wine tastings and events.
After purchasing the property we discovered that much of the 150 year old former brewery had been left intact but buried on the hillside of the property. The brewery has been carefully uncovered and is now being rebuilt with reclaimed stone found on site. The same Joliet limestone was used in the Illinois State Capitol building, Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, and most famous of all, the Chicago Water Tower which was the only public building to survive the 1871 Chicago fire. Once completed, it will house our wine processing equipment, tanks and barrel aging rooms. The same barrel aging rooms that kept the beer cold 150 years ago will be utilized for our wine barrels. We hope you will agree that we have achieved our goal to bring a winery with an old world feel to it and comparable to many of the French and Tuscan wineries that people travel to Europe to experience.
We are partnering with Joliet Junior College to offer some informal classes at the winery to introduce students to wine and the wine making process. We hope by introducing young eager students to the wine industry we may be able to influence a new breed of future winemakers such as African American, Hispanic and Asian winemakers. Hopefully, in the near future, JJC will be offering wine industry classes and real world wine making experience at Bishops Hill Winery.