Mary Michelle began as a dream of a group of investors from Santa Barbara, California. They knew that, historically, the five counties that surrounded the lower Illinois River valley were once renowned for the production of high quality grapes, apples and peaches. Small producers of wine and cider were also common in many towns throughout the area. After World War II, almost all fruit producers were forced to switch to other crops due to low cost competition from California.
But they knew that the earth and the climate in the valley hadn’t changed, so there was no reason why quality grapes and wine could not be grown in this region again. Thus the dream of Mary Michelle was born. The goal was to produce an affordable world class wine from Illinois grown grapes. This dream would require a considerable commitment of time, energy and capital.Thus, in 1999 the first vines of what was to become a 100 acre vineyard, were planted with new and improved wine varieties, such as Chardonel, as well as the finest of the old traditional grapes, Cynthiana. Construction of the totally modern winery facility was completed in 2003 and wine sales began in earnest in 2005 with distribution throughout the states of Illinois and Missouri.
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