Photo Credits by Permission: Tres Rojas Winery
It’s always so interesting to me as to how owners come to open new wineries. What drives a person, or in the case of Tres Rojas Winery, a couple, to want to take on the tremendous work involved in planting Barry Vineyards, opening a winery, and then a tasting and event venue. For Bob and Lisa Barry their love of wine and visiting wineries is what started them on the journey. What better way to retire? Well, let’s just say it is a different type of work and lifestyle. I mentioned to Lisa my love of visiting wineries and joy of the wine experience, to which she replied with a smile, “be careful or you may end up with a winery”.
The Barry’s established a small vineyard in Pekin IL with a nearby production space where they began operations. They then purchased approximately 52 acres and started construction of the vineyards, production facility and tasting room in 2019. The property was annexed into the city of Washington IL later that year.
“Tres Rojas”, according to their website, means “three reds”, and so named because the first three wine varieties made by Bob as an amateur were reds; Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Sangiovese.
Bob Barry has won many awards already in both Amateur and Professional wine producer classes. These have included 2016 and 2018 Illinois State Fair Competitions and 2016 National American Wine Society.
The following is a list of the wines that I tried on my visit, along with the winery’s tasting notes. I have added my own comments as well.
Blanca Tres – Seyval Blanc – “Crisp and clean, this cold-hardy grape gives notes of citrus and light minerality, with a nice tartness and smooth finish.” – I stopped to try this wine as I was checking out/ So glad i did. This really does have a smooth finish, and carries the citric flavors well. I already know I will be having this wine with smoked salmon.
Blanca Una – Chardonnay – “Lightly buttery with a touch of American oak, our 2015 Chardonnay is robust with notes of pear, apple and citrus with a nice smooth finish.” – As I mentioned to Bob Barry, this is a very unique Chardonnay. He was not sure where I was going with this comment, but it was in a positive way. I love the very bold and oaky Chardonnays, but this one is very lightly oaked so the fruit that you get up front continues on the palette and through the finish. This is a wine that I could sit and sip alone (without food).
Bésita de Roja – ” “Little kiss of Red”, this off-dry Illinois Chambourcin Rosé has strawberry and Maraschino cherry flavors. A perfect sipper all on its own.” – This wine is light with a very light sweetness that allows the fruit to come through. Coming from the bold Chambourcin variety, you can still recognize those characteristics but in a light refreshing wine. This would be good on a hot summer day, or even in front of a warm fireplace.
Zinfandel 2019 – “This Zin is dry, smooth, full-bodied and fruit-forward. The aroma presents notes of blackberry, cherry and jam with black pepper on the way out.” – Many times my palette does not match the tasting notes from the producer. However, in this case we are spot on. The aromas and flavors are fruit forward and continue to a very refreshing black pepper finish.
Marquette 2019 – “This cold-hardy hybrid grape has some Pinot Noir heritage. Your new fall favorite jumps out of the glass with tobacco, black fruit, and new leather notes in this medium-bodied dry red wine.” – I was not familiar with this variety of grape. It was developed in 1989 and introduced in 2006 by the University of Minnesota, where much research has been conducted over the years with grape varieties that can hold up to the cold Midwest and are less susceptible to fungi that can negatively affect the vines. This wine is a bit bolder than the other reds, with more oak, and tannins that definitely convince you that you need another drink is needed.
Chambourcin 2020 – This wine was not on the menu, because it was just bottled the day before my visit. Even though very young, the bold aromas and dark fruit flavors developed the longer it rested in the glass. Even though it is great to drink now, I will likely hold mine for a few months to get beyond the bottle shock.
They have several other sweet, fruit, and additional white and red wines. Please visit their website where you can see the full list and even place curbside pickup orders.
I’d like to thank Lisa and Bob for taking time to speak with me, and I’m looking forward to visiting again.