When he wasn’t piloting a plane, Toby Beall spent time with his bare feet in the Caribbean sand and a cocktail mellowing in his hand. Looking to share that laid-back lifestyle, Beall, his wife Jillian and brother Jamey founded Tailwinds Distilling Company. Today, the Plainfield-based specialists blend premium ingredients such as organic molasses and 100% blue agave, and carefully age them in french-oak barrels to create their tropically-inspired amber rum. After the signature, small-batch distilling process—which avoids the use of carbon filters so as to leave the flavors intact—each bottle is individually signed. That attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed: their Taildragger white rum earned a silver medal at the 2012 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition, and their 100% blue agave spirit was featured in Chicago Magazine's Holiday 2012 Gift Guide: For Imbibers.
Visitors can take a jetlag-free trip to the tropics during tours of the facility, learning about distillation and sampling sips in a tiki-bar-themed tasting room. Merchandise such as T-shirts, snifters, and flasks provide more lasting souvenirs than the imaginary tan the island vibe might inspire.
Visitors have an unusual transportation option for getting to Summer Solstice: if they get an early enough start, they can float up to the day of craft beer and concerts by canoe. As the Fox River ambles past the historic buildings of downtown Yorkville, it deposits a flotilla of revelers in Riverfront Park. Those who don’t want to paddle in are also allowed to arrive on foot or palanquin to enjoy the rootsy music and frosty brews of the fest, a collaboration between Rogue Barrister Records, Three Angels Brewing, and the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Naturally, the chefs at Cooper’s Hawk have a sharp eye when it comes to wine pairings. Each of the restaurant’s contemporary dishes is crafted with a particular wine in mind, which makes plenty of sense given the fact that there’s a winery located just next door. Surrounded by oaken barrels and racks lined with glistening bottles, diners may be forgiven for thinking that they made a wrong turn and ended up in the winery itself. After your meal, see the real thing in the Napa–style tasting room, where you can sample up to eight different wines. The selection includes something for everyone, including graceful blush wines and cabernets whose flavors unfold like a novel scribbled on the wings of an origami crane.
Picturesque rows of vines and trellises blanket Acquaviva Winery's 40-acre estate. But this idyllic outdoor setting is hardly the only draw. In fact, it may even be overshadowed by the elegant edifice standing nearby. That would be Acquaviva's tasting room, full service restaurant, and marketplace. This structure, whose architecture and decor are the work of artist Andrew Zabela, features the rich color palette and complexity associated with the high Renaissance. Domed ceilings display elaborate, gold-painted plaster filigrees, which, in turn, frame Zabela's hand-painted murals.
The elaborateness of the decor actually stands in stark contrast to the simplicity of the wines. "We have a minimal intervention approach to our process," says wine maker Sergio Benavides, "permitting our terroir, grapes, and vines to speak for themselves." He manages every acre of the vineyards, coaxing flavor from 23 different varieties of grapes. His care and tending pay off: virtually every bottle of wine the vineyard produces, from the Bianco Bello to the Frontenac, boasts multiple awards and notes of robust self-esteem.
WineStyles’ inspiration for its wine-tasting parties began, of all places, at a backyard barbecue. Some friends at the barbecue found themselves with too many bottles of wine. As an experiment, they decided to taste the wines blindly, so as not to be influenced by price or packaging. This impromptu tasting became the template for WineStyles, a boutique designed to help you choose a wine simply by taste. That is, wines here aren’t categorized by varietal or region, but instead by one of eight taste profiles: crisp, silky, rich, and bubbly for whites; fruity, mellow, bold, and nectar for reds. However, patrons interested in knowing more about their selected bottle can still do so—each bottle comes with a description of its characteristics and suggested food pairings.
Those looking to learn even more about wines can attend one of WineStyles’ weekly tastings or discovery classes. During these events, certified specialists explore everything from the history of different varietals to current trends in wine drinking, such as which wine goes best with texting. Different levels of wine-club membership give participants two to three bottles a month (each selected by a Masters Wine Panel, invitations to private tastings, and discounts toward additional purchases.
Whether you're searching for a new go-to table wine or trying to sock away a bottle worthy of celebration, finding your favorite wine can be a time-consuming process. Fortunately, the staff at The Wine Cellar Outlet Joliet makes this search a little easier on the wallet with their large selection of wines. The shop carries a range of vintages and varietals, from Sauvignon Blancs to bottles of Bordeaux, Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignons. Each wine is bottled and aged in notable regions around the globe, allowing tasters to sample the subtle differences in international growing conditions without taking a job as a traveling scarecrow. Reflecting the breadth of styles found in the world's wines, the shop's stock ranges from the obscure to the award-winning, with some bottles even bearing a gold seal of approval from the International Wine Challenge.