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Heartland wineries see increase in business compared to 2020

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 4:50 PM CDT
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POMONA, Ill. (KFVS) - Wineries across the Southern Illinois Wine Trail are starting to get back to normal, compared to this time last year.

“We were completely shut down for business for a period of time last year so, this year comparatively is much better cause we’ve just been open,” said Scott Albers, Wine Maker at Kite Hill Vineyard/

Albers stated that they are starting to see more and more wine drinkers again.

“But we are starting to see a lot more people come out to the tasting room here and be comfortable sitting outside,” said Albers.

With no live music at Kite Hill, Albers described Kite Hill as a more chill place on the wine trail. “We’re also kind of a quieter place on the wine trail. So we don’t usually see the giant crowds here that some wineries get. It’s a bit of a more of a relaxed atmosphere.”

Kite Hill has also had their bed and breakfast closed since the pandemic began.

Another winery on the trail is Pomona Winery. They are also starting to notice more guests.

“We’ve noticed more people coming out and last weekend was Memorial Day weekend, so we had a real busy Saturday and Sunday,” said George Majka, Owner of Pomona Winery.

Pomona had to change its operation during the pandemic. At one point, they were even closed.

“We’re selling wine by the bottle. Either to take with you or for on-site consumption. Because we’re only open three days a week and we’re not doing tastings, we’re also not serving wine by the glass,” said Majka.

Pomona’s owner said wine tasting is a popular feature at his venue. That was 15 months ago. When the State of Illinois reopens to phase 5, Pomona will go back to what it’s known for.

“We don’t know how it’s going to work. It’s going to require people being in a room, unmasked with a group, perhaps groups of people,” said Majka.

Majka, was also one of the founders of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

Back at Kite Hill, Albers said the warmer weather will attract more customers. “People are sure enjoying our wines. It’s great when the weather is nice out here, that always brings our more people.”

The Shawnee Wine Trail includes 11 local wineries from Carbondale and Makanda through Pomona down to Cobden and Alto Pass.

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