On the Road with Illinois Rosé

6.27, part 2.  Hidden Lake Winery’s Ruby Rosé with Avonlea Schoenberg

“How did we get here?”


As part of this project, I’ve been trying to connect with people with a variety of professional backgrounds, and during my search discovered Avonlea Schoenberg. Avonlea is a writer, social media superstar, and local wine enthusiast who goes by the handle “Whimsical Wine Woman“. Hailing from Edwardsville IL, she spends as much time as she can traveling around the state and promoting its wineries.

IMG-0744“I used to hate wine when I was younger” she explained. “There was always wine around, but the snobby people around me really turned me off of the stuff. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I had a wine that made me realize that not all wine sucks!”

I asked her what the wine was that changed everything for her.  “Starview Vineyards‘ Silver Star. It’s a sweet white wine that’s fruity and fun, and the winery staff didn’t make me feel like a dork for liking sweet wine.” That’s a common story that is repeated across our entire industry. Illinois tasting rooms entertain newcomers to wine all the time, and are thrilled to have the opportunity to be someone’s first great wine experience.

One of the goals of the Illinois Rosé project is to also connect new people to Illinois wine, so I think we’re going to get along great.  The wine I chose for Avonlea is Hidden Lake Winery’s Ruby Rosé.  Avonlea has never been to Hidden Lake, but had heard about it many times. “It seems like all of my friends got married here!”  img_0108-3That makes sense, as Hidden Lake is a beautiful site with ponds, waterfalls, and adorable cabins spread around the grounds. In fact, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch just named Hidden Lake as the “Best Winery for an Overnight Stay.” They also feature an amazing indoor banquet space which keeps their wedding calendar full practically year-round. Hidden Lake Winery has been around for a while, but has recently come under the ownership of Steve and Angela Gorazd, who have brought a new passion and dedication to quality that is already paying dividends. Winemaker Cory Kunkle has been turning out some really impressive wines this year!

I sat down with Avonlea to taste the Ruby Rosé. It’s a different style than many in the project – it’s got a little more color and structure than most, but I think that is what makes it exciting. Like many of the wines in the project, it’s made from the Chambourcin grape, but I really like the unique style. Steve indicated that they were going for something more like a rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon than a traditional Provence wine. I asked Avonlea for her impressions:




She clearly loved it, despite the fact that is bone dry and has nice smooth tannin.  Then she pulled out a package – “I brought a giant rosé float for the tasting! I saw it, and thought “YES!”.”  IMG-0755There’s something celebratory about wine in general, and rosé wine specifically, so I get it.  Cold rosé wine and a fun, outdoor experience should go really well together, especially in the Midwest summer heat. My job used to be to pick wines apart, but Avonlea is all about the fun!  I love her refreshing outlook on wine, and need to adopt a little more of that in my own life moving forward.

Steve blew up the float and off we went, along with the winery dog pack, to enjoy a dip in the pond.

“This is a place more people need to know about”, said Avonlea. I agree! It’s only about 40 minutes east of downtown St. Louis, but it feels like a whole world away. The wines across the list are top-notch, and they have a beautiful site for weddings and other events. Steve mentioned later that more and more people are traveling from the St. Louis metro area to visit all the time.


I had a great experience at Hidden Lake Winery.  I have a feeling this place is going to grow quickly, so I’d recommend getting out and paying Steve and Angela a visit while it’s still a hidden gem! Thanks to Steve Gorazd and the Whimsical Wine Woman for a great evening, and our project sponsors:

ilda logo                    illinois-wine-logo

See you on the road next time! Please subscribe here to receive notifications of future posts.!  Cheers!