If current trends continue, grapes just might conquer the Land of Lincoln! The number of acres under vine in Illinois has exploded by more than 500% since 1997, and the number of wineries has mushroomed to nearly 80. Illinois is full of sloping hills and rich loamy soil, an excellent base for grapes. Most wineries are clustered in southern Illinois, where they benefit from long sunny days. The obstacles to these vineyards are the long, harsh winters and the use of pesticide 2,4-D in surrounding agricultural areas. With the number of wineries and vineyard acreage soaring, producers are focusing on the things they do well. They continue to nurture their highly-successful French hybrids, which rank as the top six varietals planted in the state. They also continue to lobby for government investment, to promote wine-related tourism and to increase wine awareness.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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