Furrow Winery To Close

By Jeff Muniz

July 15, 2010 Updated Jan 16, 2008 at 8:44 PM CDT

Most local farmers are feeling good with corn prices nearing record highs this week. But, there is one local farmer who went into a different field that's left him with a sour taste.

Wayne Furrow was the first in the area wine business. Now, he's putting the last labels on his homemade drink. Furrow will put the final cork into his El Paso winery in March.

"We needed to get more people here. We've had great customers and they've come back all the time or often. But, we needed new customers," said Wayne Furrow.

One of those loyal customers is wine connoisseur Ray Faulk from Hudson.

He is upset over the closing saying, "It was a nice place to stop by and very casual. It's just a nice place for gifts and wine."

Furrow says his sales have stayed steady with about 40,000 bottles of wine being sold a year. He says to make money he needed it to be at least 60,000.

Employee Diane Hardt says it hurts because she's losing her job and the town is losing a tourist attraction.

She said, "El Paso is losing a lot of business. Downtown is closing down and now the winery."

Furrow says it's tough growing grapes here. He's already lost 3 of his 10 acres of vines to disease.

"We try to have exotic ones and that's when we ran into trouble."

Furrow says if he could do it differently he would not have started so big with his building and the acres of vines in 2001.

This spring, many of the poles and wires will be replaced with corn or soybeans. That's just the sweeter taste in farming today.

The head of the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association expects at least one new winery to open this summer in Central Illinois with no other closures.

Furrow says there are people exploring the purchase of his property to keep it a winery.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.