My name is Charles Walker, and I am the Event Coordinator and Tasting Room Manager at Alto Vineyards. Alto Vineyards is Southern Illinois’ oldest, most award-winning winery. Located in the foothills of the beautiful Shawnee National Forest in Alto Pass, we take great care in growing delicious grapes and making excellent wine. With a second location in Champaign, IL, and hundreds of national and international wine competition medals, we invite you to join us in toasting to the future of Illinois wines!
What does your business do?
Alto Vineyards has specialized in wine production and grape growing for 30 years and has won several awards in state, national, and international levels. Located in the foothills of the Shawnee National Forest, our 5,000 square foot tasting room offers wine tastings, food, and host to many private events, fundraisers, festivals, and entertainment all year long.
What was the inspiration behind the business you work for?
Alto Vineyards began with one man’s dream, Guy Renzaglia, who saw the potential of growing grapes in Southern Illinois and pioneered the way for other wineries and grape growers in the area to do the same. There are now over 20 wineries and 55 vineyards in the area and the Shawnee Hills officially became an American Viticultural Area in 2006. Alto Vineyards is part of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail that includes 11 wineries between a 50-mile radius in Southern Illinois. We have all been a part of the economic and agricultural development in Southern Illinois and have brought in tourists from all over to enjoy the best that Southern Illinois has to offer.
What I love most about working for Alto Vineyards is getting to meet all the people who visit the area and the stories they have to tell. I’m fortunate to be able to work with brilliant people in the industry while enjoying the amazing scenery of Southern Illinois. The sunsets here are absolutely breathtaking.
What’s one thing visitors to your business might be surprised to know?
Visitors are surprised to find that Southern Illinois wineries are producing award-winning wines that are on the same par as wines from California and Europe. A majority of people didn’t know we had so many wineries in Southern Illinois. That’s why it is so important to get the word out that we are here and for people to come to experience it for themselves.
What do you deliver to your customers that give them a positive experience?
At Alto Vineyards, we strive to give customers premium service every time someone walks through the door. We are also educators and give customers insight into our wines, from production to tastings profiles. One of our principals is to shop local and support local businesses. Alto Vineyards is a place where you can enjoy an amazing view, award-winning wines, and an experience you’ll never forget.