Cheers to Mother Nature

By Anna Yee

July 26, 2012 Updated Jul 26, 2012 at 10:33 PM CDT

EDWARDS, Ill. -- It's pressing day at Kickapoo Creek Winery.
Production of the company's 3,000 yearly cases of wine is underway.

Unlike other earth-grown goods in the area, the hot and dry weather is helping make the product even better.

"We're going to have probably one of the best years Illinois has ever had, which we're excited about," said Kate Taylor, winemaker at Kickapoo Creek Winery.

"There's going to be more alcohol, some great flavors coming through, and that's just because the hot weather is giving the grapes sufficient time to ripen."

Kickapoo Creek Winery's grapes are about 3 weeks ahead of schedule.

One way you can tell is by color.

Normally, clusters are mostly green, but a lot of them are all red.

Taste is another marker.

"We're going to make wine with less sugar from the store,' said Taylor. "It's all natural sugar coming from the grapes."

Ryan Heimann sells his grapes to the winery.

He says the summer's dry conditions have lessened the workload on his Southern Illinois vineyard.

"Diseases were quite a bit less, so less spraying," said Heimann, "and also the insect problem wasn't as great."

But Heimann will have to keep a close eye on next year's batch, since he says the drought likely weakened the vines.

The wine made from this season's grapes won't be ready to drink until the holidays, but experts say it's worth the wait.

"I think people are leaning more towards drinking and eating more locally," said Heimann. "Especially a year after this year, the wines are going to be exceptional quality, and I think that's going to push that movement even more."

Cheers to that.

For more information on Kickapoo Creek Winery and its wines, visit www.kickapoocreekwinery.com.

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