Spend a Weekend Hiking the Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest is home to quite a few interesting places, but there is one that is perfect for a weekend stay: Von Jakob Winery and Brewery. Our winery includes two lovely bed and breakfast cottages that are just a short walk from our establishment and offer a wonderful view of the forest. Our Wine House includes three fully stocked suites: The Canyon Gold Suite, the Chateau Suite, and the Cab Sav Suite and each make an excellent choice for a relaxing and/or romantic get-away. Each suite also has a Jacuzzi tub and comfortable king sized beds. We recently built a grill and pub that serves a variety of dishes and is meant to be a casual place to have dinner and maybe grab a drink or two. We serve a wide variety of dishes such as our German Beef Brisket or our Fried Catfish. There are quite a few drink options to choose from as well. We have a detailed menu of cocktails, craft beers, and wines that are exceedingly enjoyable.

Our guests at Von Jakob Winery and Brewery can check in at the Wine House Friday, stay a minimum of two nights, and enjoy not only the activities we offer, but also those nearby such as the various park and hiking options around the Shawnee Wine Trail.

Giant City State Park

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from our establishment, and made of four thousand acres, is Giant City State Park. This lovely area has eight trails brimming with fascinating flora and fauna and sandstone bluffs that are breathtaking to say the least. Some of these trails are easily navigable and short like the Arrow Wood Trail which is a third of a mile. If you’re looking for a longer hike there is the twelve-mile long Red Cedar Trail. One of the more unique hikes is the short yet awe-inspiring Devil’s Standtable Trail. This particular route has a rock formation that was originally part of the bluffs, but erosion isolated it making stand out against the forest landscape. The trail is also a great location for rock climbing in the Shawnee Wine Trail area as the Devil’s Standtable and the bluffs around it are fifty feet high. Though Giant City State Park is known for its hiking trails, there are a plethora of other activities such as fishing, boating, metal detecting, and hunting. It is certainly not a park to be missed especially since it is only thirty minutes away from Von Jakob Winery and Brewery.

Shawnee National Forest Trails

Giant City State Park may have a few hiking options, but the Shawnee National Forest has quite a few more. One of these in particular is ten minutes away from our brewery and is quite popular. The Pomona Natural Bridge is a third of a mile trail and the titular bridge is ninety feet long, eight feet wide, and made completely out of sandstone. The trail is enjoyed by people of all ages, offers a fantastic walk through nature, and is enjoyed by many guests of the Shawnee Wine Trail.

Little Grand Canyon

One final location worth mentioning became a National Natural Landmark in 1980, is a twenty-minute drive from Von Jakob Winery and Brewery, and is called the Little Grand Canyon. This 3.6-mile-long trail can take three to four hours to complete, but it offers a view of the mighty Mississippi River that cannot be beat. There are canyon walls of sandstone that are over a hundred feet high and house many climbable ledges and grottos. The canyon contains a wide range of wildlife like deer, falcons, and many more.

If you are looking for somewhere to relax and enjoy nature, look no further than Shawnee National Forest and if you need a place to stay, we at Von Jakob Winery and Brewery will do what we can to make it worth your while.



The History of the Southern Illinois Wine Trail

Shawnee National Forest has been known for its wetlands, large oak trees, and its rolling hills; however, it has recently gained attention for something else: wine. In 1978, a man by the name of Guy Renzaglia pioneered the development of the wine industry in Southern Illinois. He along with a few others cofounded The Shawnee Wine Trail which includes a vast majority of the breath-taking Shawnee National Forest and stretches about eighty miles east to west and twenty miles north to south or 1,350,000 acres. One of the other founders, Ted Wichmann, petitioned and helped the area earn Illinois’ first AVA (American Viticultural Area) in 2006. This designates the Shawnee Wine Trail as unique grape growing land. Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Chancellor, Chardonel, Fronenac, Riesling, and Traminett are just seven of the various grapes grown specifically for wine making in this area.

Since its inception, the Shawnee Wine Trail has grown to include 55 vineyards and 15 wineries. In 1999 the Illinois Grape and Wine Resources Council estimated that the wine trails’ products provided one million dollars to boost the area economy and by 2001 there were five wineries that produced more than 150,000 bottles. In 2010 the area had an estimated twenty-eight percent annual growth since the mid 1990’s and that forty percent of the wine trail’s visitors were non local. This means that the Shawnee Wine Trail is an excellent source of income by tourism and its various bed and breakfasts, cabins, and vacation rentals have significantly boosted the region’s hospitality industry.

Southern Illinois Winery: Von Jakob Winery and Brewery

One of the more successful Southern Illinois wineries in the Shawnee Wine Trail is our company, the Von Jakob Winery and Brewery located in Alto Pass, Illinois. Our business consists of fifteen acres of Illinois vineyards and produces over twenty unique wines ranging from full-bodied reds to dessert wines. For those that favor beer, we added a brewery in 2010 that now produces eight styles of handcrafted beer, not including seasonal batches and hard cider that we started making in 2012. We also serve a wide variety of dishes such as German Beef Brisket and Grapevine Smoked Barbecue Sandwiches in our Grill & Pub.

Southern Illinois Bed and Breakfast

Our Southern Illinois winery also features two bed and breakfast cottages: The Wine House and The Port House. Either of them are perfect for a romantic overnight stay or weekend getaway. The Wine House has three fully furnished bedroom suites and are decorated to fit their unique names: The Canyon Gold Suite, the Chateau Suite, and the Cab Sav Suite. The Port House on the other hand has two: The White Port and the Red Port Suites. Both cottages overlook Shawnee National Forest and include king-size beds as well as Jacuzzi tubs to relax and enjoy the awe inspiring view. Customers receive a complimentary welcome basket and a bottle of wine from the winemaker’s selection.

Southern Illinois Events

We also host southern Illinois events throughout the year such as live music. Private events like weddings and small parties can be booked too. If the planned festivities include more than fifty people, there is also an exquisite Brewery Ballroom and Winery Ballroom. Both of which can seat over one hundred occupants; perfect for company retreats or seminars.

If you are in the Southern Illinois area and think that there is little to do, then think again and come check out the picturesque Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. We hope you come visit us and uncork the good life at our family owned and operated Von Jakob Winery and Brewery.



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Streakin' Johnny Hard Apple Cider is 2013 "Fruit Wine of the Year"

Less than a year after its initial release (Summer 2012), our Streakin’ Johnny Hard Apple Cider is already racking up awards. Streakin’ Johnny received a trophy for the 2013 Fruit Wine of the Year, along with a Double Gold Medal and Best-of-Class Honors, at the Indy International Wine Competition held in late July. With over 2300 entries from 40 states and 15 countries, Indy International is the largest scientifically organized and independent wine competition in the United States. Earlier in July 2013, Streakin’ Johnny earned Best-of-Class Honors and a Silver Medal in the Illinois State Fair Wine Competition. With a product like Streakin’ Johnny, it is easy to see why the hard cider industry is the fastest growing industry in the beverage world.