Turning off of Roselle isn’t easy. It’s a loud, busy road. But once you’re on Lynfred Winery proper, you don’t hear a whisper of the aggressive suburban driving only 50 feet away. The ivy-covered buildings, rustic gazebo, and sudden quiet evoke a private peacefulness that rivals that of Napa Valley. You need only to travel to the western suburbs rather than the west coast to find vacation vibes and locally produced wine.
Lynfred is an urban winery, which is another way of saying that they don’t grow their own grapes. Through long standing relationships with vineyards from California to Illinois to Chile, grapes are brought to Lynfred to be processed, fermented, and bottled on site. Some relationships have spanned generations; as one of Illinois’ oldest and biggest wineries, Lynfred Winery has had time to ferment them to ensure the best selection of grapes.
Stores dedicated solely to Lynfred wines can be found throughout Chicago suburbs, but the flagship store in Roselle is the site to visit for a tour. Cellar tours are available during the weekend, and tour guides make the complicated process of winemaking easy to understand. They’re capable of answering any question: from the history of Lynfred Winery to how different wines are made. The cellar could easily be a spooky place with its dim lighting and industrial set up, but the warm laughter of tour takers speaks volumes about how engaging the staff is.
If you couldn’t care less about production, just stay up in the parlor for a wine tasting. Bread is complimentary, and a cheese plate can be easily ordered. Each month, 10 wines are offered to the public, and the $14 tasting lets you try 8 of them. The pours are generous, and the staff are always attentive.
I won’t lie to your face, anonymous reader: I’m no wine expert. My scribbled notes on the wine list tell me that I thought the the Malbec 2013 tasted like a V6 cordless Dyson in the best of ways, the apricot fruit wine smelled a bit like cat piss and tasted all the better because of it, and I should buy a whole case of the savory chocolatey Merlot Reserve 2013. Incoherent notes aside, I’m not here to tell you to visit Lynfred Winery because the wine is good, as good as it is, because you can find good wine in Chicago pretty easily. Come visit because the experience goes beyond the wine.
As a militant observer of happy hour, I’ve been to a lot of wine bars in Chicago. Some are stuffy with pretentious airs, others are millennial modern, all are trying to be something relevant. Lynfred Winery is steeped in its traditions and adherence to a vision unimpeded by changing times and tastes. The very woodwork and its thematic consistency within the winery speak to the place’s dedication to a simple standard: be what it is, nothing more, and certainly nothing less. With its apathy towards being relevant, Lynfred Winery succeeds at being the only thing that has any value in this postmodern age: authentic.
Even the staff of the winery are this, which is to say themselves. No one is baiting you in order to get a bigger tip (if given, all tips are donated to the charity of the month), but simply working so that you enjoy a moment with a beautiful glass of wine. This isn’t a place where the staff have fake smiles plastered on their faces and upselling, like their salary, is based on commission; it’s a place where different staff members tell the same story with laughter in the back of their throats. Being served by satisfied people has a subtle effect: everything is done with a silent sincerity. The place and its people are well worn, and all the more welcoming for it.
You can find Lynfred wines in the city at a Binny’s, Mariano’s, or on the lake with a $49 shoreline wine cruise. Even join the monthly subscription plan to get your fix of locally made wine, but for the full experience, take the MDW Metro to Roselle. You can even spend the night at the winery’s Bed & Breakfast suites to transform a day trip into a weekend getaway.
Lynfred Winery Inc. is located at 15 South Roselle Road. Roselle, with additional tasting rooms in Naperville, Wheaton and Wheeling. For more on Lynfred, click here.