September is synonymous with colorful foliage, crisp temperatures and aromatic harvests. But for many, the color, crispness and aroma of September have nothing to do with leaves, thermometers or pumpkins. For them, these sensations are all about wine.
And September in Illinois is all about wine fests. Every weekend, all around the state, oenophiles have a choice of fests at which to indulge in all the taste and beauty of their favorite beverage.
In Chicagoland, one of the oldest and most exquisite of these events is the Mokena Food and Wine Festival, celebrating its 10th year on Saturday, September 14. Featuring over a dozen food vendors and scores of wine selections, the Festival attracts over a thousand people who relax, listen to live music, enjoy the sunshine and open spaces of Historic McGovney-Yunker Farm, and indulge in gastronomic pleasures that thrill the tastebuds.
Nick Nelson is committee Co-chair of the Mokena Food and Wine Festival, sponsored by the Mokena Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Mokena Park District and Currie Motors. “This event began as a way for the Chamber to give back to the community; to create a lovely, signature event for Mokena. Over the years, word has spread about the quality and handsomeness of this over-21 event and we get visitors from all over the state. While this is a day full of food, drink, laughter and fun, we maintain an air of elegance.”
That elegance is reflected in the performance of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra trio, a steady presence these past 10 years. This year, other performers throughout the day include guitarist Dave Molinari, who performed at the very first Food and Wine Festival, Grammy-nominated keyboardist Keenan Baxter and the Chico Smorgallees Jazz Ensemble. “Our entertainment features polished professionals; these musicians are all very talented and innovative. The layout of the Farm is perfect for any listening style. You can get up close and really savor the music, or you can sit farther away and enjoy it as a background for your day.”
The Farm features a house and two barns, on land populated with ancient, towering trees; a perfect place to pull up a seat and sip. It is easily accessible from I-80 at the LaGrange Road exit, at 10824 LaPorte Road in Mokena. About 30 minutes from Naperville along I-355 and 40 minutes from Chicago along I-55, getting to the Fest is an easy trip.
This year, participating wineries from around the Midwest include Cooper’s Hawk, Kite Hill Vineyards and Aged to Perfection. Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery is new this year, raising their own bees and collecting their own honey to produce the only mead on the Northern Illinois Wine Trail. Craft beer samples will be available from Samuel Adams.
Food providers are local and include Brookhaven Marketplace, also an event sponsor, Jenny’s @ 191 South, Tom Kelly’s, EggCetera Café, Salina’s Pasta and Pizza, Stoney Point Grill, Peppermill Family Restaurant, Smokey Barque BBQ, Little Joe’s Famous Pizza and El Cortez. Also participating is Harvest Room, a new eatery specializing in dishes made with local, organic or organically raised ingredients.
Andrea Ramirez-Justin, 2013 President of the Chamber, has attended the Fest for years. “The event just tastes and feels like the fall season. We are a more intimate fest and we’re really a great economical choice for a full day – great date for couples or an outing for groups of friends.”
If you find a scrumptious wine that you can’t live without, bottles and cases are also for sale on the premises.
The event begins at noon and ends at 6 pm on Saturday, September 14. Tickets for the event are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, $15 for food tastings only. More information is available at www.mokena.com.
Celebrating its 10th year, the Mokena Food and Wine Festival is the place to indulge in the tastes, aromas and textures of fall – and especially of wine.