Lake County's Five Oldest Lake County Libation Trail Partners - Visit Lake County - Blog

Lake County's Five Oldest Lake County Libation Trail Partners

By: Jonathan Jones 02/09/2022

"To alcohol! The cause of...and solution to...all of life's problems," - Homer J. Simpson.

As we near the halfway point of Lake County Libation Trail Month/Check In Challenge, we take a look at the land of lakes' five eldest drinkeries. Thirty of the 33 breweries, wineries and distilleries are a part of the Lake County Libation Trail.


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Lake County turns the ripe old age of 183 on March 1, but the craft libation world didn't pop up until the 1990s at its earliest. These wineries, distilleries and breweries have a ton of inspiring historical nuggets during their inceptions. For one, the Land of Lincoln's first craft brewery and first craft distillery reside in Lake County.

As we continue into this recovery period from the pandemic, drinking local while wetting your whistle is ideal in our fair county. Indulge in a frothy brew, an eclectic vino or a unique cocktail from the Libation Trail's breweries, distilleries and wineries throughout February and beyond!


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Guests who “Check-In” at five or more locations between Feb. 1-28 will be eligible for a drawing, where 50 people will win a new Libation Trail Roster Shirt. The long-sleeved 100% cotton shirt lists all the Libation Trail partner locations to visit this year. Once 50 names are drawn after March 1, winners who respond to email notification with their name and mailing address within seven days will be awarded a shirt to wear proudly.

  1. SCAN the QR code, TEXT “CHEERS” to 224.706.1133 or visit
  2. Sign up for the Libation Trail Passport and opt-in for location services and prompts.
  3. CHECK-IN at five or more participating locations between Feb. 1-28 to be entered to WIN.
  4. 50 eligible entrants will win the new Libation Trail Roster Shirt, a sought-after souvenir for adventurous libation connoisseurs.
To enter, patrons will text “CHEERS” to 224-706-1133 or continue here.

Without further adieu, here are Lake County's five oldest Lake County Libation Trail partners. Get to trail hoppin'.

Honorable Mention: Lynfred Winery in Wheeling (2008)

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Illinois’s eldest winery is Lynfred, who just celebrated 40 years in operation opening initially in Roselle. A hobby that turned into a full-fledged business was founded by Fred E. Koehler, who’s also known as the father of the Illinois wine industry. The Lake County vino tasting room has been earning awards and national recognition since 1985. Lynfred has four locations: Roselle, Wheeling, Wheaton and Naperville. The Wheeling room has been open since 2008 and is known for favorites like Fred’s Red, Vin de City White, and a ton of other electric flavors.

5. North Shore Distillery in Green Oaks (Established 2004)

North Shore Distillery is the first craft distillery in the Land of Lincoln (the first to open in the state since the Prohibition Era). Since 2004, Derek and Sonja Kassebaum (and their larger-than-life friend Ethel) provide vodkas, rums, gins, absinthes and unique seasonal beverages. The self-proclaimed nerds and Illinois-Made inventors love to experiment on new flavors with a plethora of different ingredients, and that’s why the award-winning Green Oaks distillery designs innovative art with their liquid creations. Sonja was featured in the article "Chemists, Bartenders and British Royalty: Eight Women Who Changed GIn History" by the Wine Enthusiast. Click here to learn more. The Green Oaks distillery was also honored with the Illinois Office of Tourism honor of "Illinois Made" recognizing the state's makers, creators, artisans, artists, family-owned businesses and more. During the height of the pandemic in April 2020, the husband-wife team got their hands wet in the hand sanitizer-making business, providing requests to first responders, health care workers and others providing critical care. Also during the pandemic, In collaboration with North Shore Distillery, Sonja created Lake County Sunset Sips. This beverage concoction is as refreshing and beautiful as a Lake County sunset: sweet, fruity, and closes with a crisp finish.

4. Valentino's Vineyards and Winery (Established 2002)


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The 20-year-old, award-winning winemakers grow and produce their berries and wines on the Long Grove estate. Boasting over 20 different grapevines that produce more than 20 vinos, Valentino’s Vineyard creates all of its libations in French and American oak barrels. The Lake County vino maker, Rudy DiTommaso has accumulated over 40 accolades for their wines. Valentinos is closed for the winter, but they reopen their tasting room from May-to-December. A vineyard tour, wine tasting and vino appreciation seminar is offered by appointment. In the winter, Valentino occasionally sells fresh-cut fir holiday arbors. Rudy's daughter, Briana DiTommaso Cardone is also in the service industry as a co-owner and co-executive chef at Mambo Italiano in Mundelein.

3. Wild Onion Brewery & Banquets in Lake Barrington (Established 1997)


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This English-style pub and local favorite has been a staple in southwestern Lake County since 1997. One of Chicagoland's early craft brewing pioneers creates handcrafted beers and hearty comfort food. The Lake Barrington brewery’s philosophy is firmly grounded with a passion and respect for many of the world-class beer styles in today’s brewing renaissance. The sudsery's founding brewer Mike Kainz was drawn to brewing because of stories his father spoke on of the Kainz Dairy on Mohawk Street in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood that his father, Joe had run. The Kainz family began fermenting their beer in milk tanks as fate pulled them in Mike in this direction. Wild Onion beers are now distributed throughout the Chicagoland area, in addition to five other states.

2. Glunz Family Winery & Cellars in Grayslake (Established 1995)


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Four generations of Glunz’s have operated a business in libationing. The Glunz family landed in the states in 1879 and opened a wine, beer and spirit store on Wells and Division Streets in Chicago's Old Town in 1888. In 1992, the third-generation descendants began creating small-batch fortified wines and the rest is history. Not only does the family own a winery and tasting room in Grayslake, but also in wine country on 20 acres of land in Paso Robles, California, where they grow much of the drinkables. Descendants from the Glunz family also run that same shop in Chicago for the last 130 years. The Grayslake/Paso Robles family winery have earned a ton of awards for their offerings.

1. Mickey Finn's Brewery in Libertyville (Established 1994)

The first craft brewery in the Land of Lincoln is Mickey Finn’s Brewery in Libertyville. Illinois’s oldest brewpub serves up some house-made ales and lagers as well as eats. The 1994-established Irish-styled brewhouse has served nearly six million pints in that period and sits in their industrial/renovated home on MainStreet Libertyville. Brian Grano has headed this Libertyville staple's helm since 2004 and Jason Martens, is the master brewer as of 2020, who honed is skills with Tighthead Brewing Co. in Mundelein (another piece of the Lake County Libation Trail) Currently, Mickey Finn’s has eight of their homemade brews on tap. The land of lakes brewhub is known for delectable pints like Bighead Pale, Oktoberfest, Santa's Magic Beligan Ale, Can I Kick It? IPA and so many more.

Lake County's Next Five Oldest Lake County Libation Trail Partners

@visitlakecounty Toast to #LetsGoLakeCounty ♬ HANDS UP - Mannywellz

To learn more about Lake County Libation Trail Month/Check In Challenge, continue here. To view more adult beverage stories, click here.



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