Illinois Rosé Project Update

This project was first announced just ahead of harvest 2016.  The intent of the announcement was just to give producers an opportunity to practice and/or focus a little more attention on their rosé wine heading into 2017.  I listed, as an example, some potential parameters we may look at as a means of unifying the wine style, and strengthening the brand.


However, the exact parameters are yet to be determined.  As we head into next year, we’re going to work on defining the criteria for acceptance or rejection in the program, and establish a working range for each.  We’ll need to make many decisions over the next year, including:

  • Color range and intensity
  • Cultivars (major, minor, etc)
  • Acid:sugar balance
  • Desirable aromatics
  • Fault tolerance
  • Packaging
  • Fruit source
  • Label considerations
  • Evaluation timing and methodology
  • Marketing goals/approach

Right now, I’ve collected Rosé wines from around the Midwest, California, France, South America, and just about any others I can get my hands on.  We’re going to use these wines in a couple of ways:

1st: Chemical analysis of Rosé wines from around the world

Analyses include: color hue and intensity, RS, pH, TA, volatile acidity, alcohol

2nd: Sensory analysis of same wines, and determination of desirable ranges for traits

Analyses include: Color, aromas, sugar:acid balance, faults

The 2nd part is where you all come in.  We’re going to create an opportunity for group blind evaluations of several rosé wines.  In January and early February, I will hold 3 sensory training/evaluation workshops.  These workshops will be open to grape and wine producers, retailers, distributors, food professionals, and other advocates for our industry.  We’ll have a lot of work to do, and they’ll run at least 4 hrs, probably scheduled from 1-5.  Because of this, and because our budget is limited, there will be a cost to participants to cover venue and food costs associated with the event.

Here is a rough timeline for the next year or so:

Month Activity
November 2016 Roundtable meetings, collection of wines for analysis – done!
December 2016 Chemical analysis of rosé wine
January 2017 Conduct sensory training/rosé assessment workshops (3)
February 2017 Present results of chemical and sensory analysis at annual conference
March 2017 Grant writing/submission for promotion of project
April 2017 Create competition category for Illinois Rosé, include parameters established by 1st sensory workshop.
May 2017 Promote and receive entries into the 2017 IL State Fair Wine Competition
June 2017 Conduct wine competition, assess results
July 2017 2nd Rosé Sensory Workshop – tweak parameters and discuss viticultural and enological  implications, launch of program to industry
August 2017 Harvest
September 2017 Harvest
October 2017 Harvest, receive announcement for grant awards
February 2018 Launch marketing campaign to industry at annual conference
March 2018 Launch marketing campaign to public, begin assessing wines from 2017 harvest?


Dates and Locations:

Southern Illinois: January 31 Blue Sky Vineyard, Makanda, 1-5

Central Illinois: January 24, The Trutter Center, Lincoln Land Community College, 1-5

Northern Illinois: Feb 6, Blackbird Restaurant, Chicago, 12-3

You must RSVP to attend this event.  Send RSVPs to  The suggested donation will be $10/person (at the door). 

That’s all for now.  Best to all of you this holiday season!

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