For Immediate Release

Contact: Nancy Portwood, Operations Manager
Illinois Cellars Winery    (217) 942.6250 

Illinois Cellars wins award as Best of Class.




CARROLLTON, IL – February 2, 2006 – Illinois Cellars Winery in Carrollton, Illinois has garnered a top honor at the 2006 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition defeating dozens of other entries from around the nation to win Best of Class as America’s finest white wine made from native American grapes.

This is the first year that wineries from outside of the state of California have been permitted to enter the highly prestigious competition, considered by many to be the toughest and best in the nation. The San Francisco Chronicle’s web page  revealed that Illinois Cellars was among only four wineries in the eastern to capture one of the highly coveted “Best of Class” awards, which are reserved only for those wines earning the highest scores among all competitors in their class.

Fifty-five professional wine judges from throughout the evaluated over 3,200 wines during the 3 day long wine judging. The complete results of the contest will not be known for several more weeks, but the San Francisco Chronicle releases the Best of Class awards early to stress the unique honor that each award carries with it.

“We knew something unusual was happening”, said Edward Hindelang, one of the partners of the Mary Michelle Winery in Carrollton which produces the Illinois Cellars brand. “We were getting at least two phone calls a week from people who loved the wine and wanted to thank us for making it, so we were very pleased when the results from San Francisco came in. It reinforced what we had been hearing from our customers.”

Mary Michelle has 60 acres of vineyards adjacent to the winery and grows most of the grapes that it uses for its wines. Unique among eastern wineries in not having any retail sales facilities at the winery, Mary Michelle instead sells only through stores and restaurants. “We’re willing and eager to go head to head with the California wineries to prove that Illinois grown wines can be every bit as good. We’re very competitive when it comes to both quality and price”, Hindelang stated. “We don’t charge for advertising, or the view, … just the wine.”

Illinois Cellars wines are available in most stores throughout the state of Illinois and in the greater St. Louis area as well. The Illinois Cellars label is reserved for those wines made from the native American grapes, such as Concord and Niagara while the Mary Michelle label is most noted for its award winning dry European type wines such as Chardonel and Cynthiana.