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Uncorked: Experience matters in winemaking

Deep roots make for special wines and spectacular events. 

This week a pair of organic Italian reds from an age-old winery are featured. Also, a recap of a spectacular fall event from a pioneer in the Illinois wine industry. It proves that experience can make for a great time and excellent wine.  

Winemaker spotlight

The switch wasn’t easy. 

Saladini Pilastri traces its roots back to the year 1000. 

Yet, in 1995 the central Italian winery decided organic production was a prudent way to continue its business. It was a risky move. The environment and sustainability weren’t hot topics at the time. 

“It was a very expensive and risky switch,” spokesperson Pietro Piccioni said. “The idea came in a time when the demand of organic wine was not high. However the Count Saladini Pilastri has always been an advocate and supporter of organic enogastronomy.

“We have tried to put together modern technology and traditional techniques in order to create a great product. Plus the suitable location of the vineyards, near the coast, and the contribution of the best consultants have helped to improve the standards and quality of our wines.”

The result of the change is evident in a pair of high quality, affordable wines. Rosso Piceno Superiore Monteprandone ($22.99) is made from old vines. It has beautiful layers of black cherry and exotic spice. There’s a frame that holds everything together and provides a beautiful body for the wine.

Whereas Pregio Del Conte ($17.99) is a wine built to compliment food. There’s a great balance and pleasant acidity. Piccioni said he believes it shows best with strong cheeses such as Pecorino, Parmigiano and Gorgonzola or wild game.

Saladini Pilastri took a risk in 1995 and proved it’s never too late to learn new techniques.

Event recap

Galena Cellars knows how to throw a party. 

At the Fall Harvest and Arts Festival last Saturday the vineyard was awash in beautiful fall colors as patrons gathered to peruse fine art, listen to live music, stomp grapes and savor smoked meats. 

While the revelry marked the end of another growing season, Galena Cellars turns out the finest white wines in Illinois. The 2011 Britt White Illinois Chardonel was full bodied with nutty, oaky notes and won a Silver Medal at the 2012 Illinois State Fair. 

Perhaps most impressive was the American Sevyal Blanc. At 12 percent alcohol, it’s as crisp and fresh as a fall breeze. There’s a fine floral note and crisp, grassy mid palate that were super compliments to the fall sunshine. 

It might have been a harvest celebration for patrons, but not for Galena Cellars staff. General Manager Scott Lawlor directed approaching cars where to park and greeted guests at the main entrance. Amidst a collection of pop-up tents, winemaker Chris Lawlor worked the central tasting area, while her daughter assisted customers in the main tasting room. 

My stay in the secluded hills of Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa once again was splendid with charming country accommodations. Next up for Galena Cellars is the Nouveau Weekend, Nov. 16 and 17. It’s a family event at Galena Cellars, which is why patrons feel so welcome.  

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at

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