If you are interested in something a little different, how about a winery that uses only locally grown non-grape fruits in their wines? Pomona Winery is a small rustic looking place with decks and a garden picnic area, and even though it is roadside, you’d swear you are in deep in the woods. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and I appreciated the chance to meet George Majka, owner (along with Jayne Payne) and winemaker.
The winery released two wines in 1993, and in 1995 opened their first tasting room in their cellar and along with Alto Vineyards, Owl Creek Vineyards and the Carbondale and Southernmost Illinois Tourism bureaus helped found the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. The current tasting room was opened in 2004.
This visit was fun. It was near closing time for the tasting room, so it was a little slow, but we were able to share the experience with several students from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale who all had a shared interest in wine.
The following is a list of the wines I tried that day, along with the winery’s tasting notes.
Jonathan – A semi-dry, crisp, tart wine made from Jonathan apples. Well-balanced, light-bodied, delicate.Excellent with subtle foods–light cheeses, sautéed fish or chicken.
Jonathan Oak Aged Reserve – A semi-dry, complex varietal wine made from Jonathan apples and mellowed with medium toasted French white oak chips that impart an earthy bass note. Try this one paired with mushroom dishes or venison.
Golden – A semi-sweet, medium-bodied wine made from Golden Delicious apples. Honey-colored with good acid balance, this wine is a winner with mildly spicy foods.
Golden Oak Aged Reserve – A semi-sweet, varietal wine made from Golden Delicious apples and aged with medium toasted American white oak chips which gives this wine a rich, creamy, buttery flavor with a hint of vanilla. Excellent with seafood or cream based pasta sauces.
Orchard Harvest – A sweet, rich, full-bodied wine made from a blend of apples. Great with flaming hot spicy foods (BBQ , curries, Cajun) or with a picnic. The apple character is enhanced by the sweetness of this wine.
Orchard Spice – A sweet, spiced apple wine with a full, zesty flavor and aroma. A festive holiday wine excellent chilled or warmed for a wintry evening’s enjoyment. A great wine for cooking ham, pork or chicken or with apple based desserts.
My favorites were the two “oak aged reserves” but mainly because I enjoy a touch (or more) of oak and I found this enhanced the flavors of these already flavorful wines.
They have several other selections made with other fruits like black currant, blueberries, and strawberries. You can purchase their wines or find locations where the are available at the winery website.
All of the Pomona wines have earned awards over the years from the Illinois Governor’s Cup, Mid-American Wine Competition, Indy International, Illinois State Fair Wine Competition, and others.
This was certainly an experience for me, because I’m not typically drawn to non-grape wines. I’m glad I made the stop here as I visited the Southern Illinois wineries.