Sleepy Creek Vineyards was a name that I’ve never heard of until a few weeks ago when I went wine tasting with my family and a few friends. I’ve always wanted to go wine tasting, and my mother had the brilliant idea of taking me to a winery that was not far away from Champaign, Illinois. My first ever wine tasting experience; of course I had to write a post about that!
The making of Sleepy Creek Vineyards
Sleepy Creek Vineyards is one of wineries located in Illinois. The founders of Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Joe and Dawn Taylor, established this vineyard because both of them were ready for something new. They began working on the vineyard in 2002 and opened the winery five years later. Personally, I really think this is quite the inspiring story because taking a new step in a business venture is risky and the success is not something you can get in a fortnight. I also imagine that working on 10 acres of grapes must not have been easy, but all the effort seemed worth it.
My wine experience at Sleepy Creek Vineyard
Arriving at Sleepy Creek Vineyards, we had the option of trying three different wines for free, or six wines for 3 USD. We took our time with each one, until finally deciding which ones were our favorite. We bought a few bottles to enjoy on the spot and some to bring back home. There were also non-alcoholic drinks (soda) including our favorite coconut soda and root beer. Something interesting about this winery is that we are allowed to bring our own food, but not alcohol. So, once we were done purchasing, we went outside to go sit on the benches and took out our own food. (Note that bringing a valid ID with your picture and birth date is mandatory.)
Sleepy Creek Vineyards also offer voluntary activities and tours as well. My family and I signed up for the grape harvesting event that starts around August 20 where we volunteer to harvest grapes for a few hours. I am super excited about this and can’t wait until harvest season!
Scapegoat, Sour Puss, and Bashful Ewe
Sleepy Creek Vineyard has a special place in my heart, not only because it’s the first vineyard I visited, but also because they have delicious and creatively-named wines. The variety of wines that they have (white, red, dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet) was quite impressive. The wines were also quite affordable (especially for a someone on a student budget like myself), ranging from 13-18 USD/bottle. And don’t get me started about the wine names. I mean, really, who would have thought of these names in the first place? My personal favorites were Scapegoat, Sour Puss, Bashful Ewe, Three Amigos.
Whenever I do something new, I try to look for something unique and different. In this case, there was a special wine called the Tomato & Jalapeño wine that is usually paired with Bloody Mary. I took a sip, and it really doesn’t taste that bad. I didn’t love it or buy a bottle of it, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought in my head. And then…the staff poured the Bloody Mary mix into my glass. That was when I went ‘ehhhhh’ in my head. My family laughed at me because they knew I had to finish the mix. I did, but I felt like I was drinking tomato soup with alcohol instead of a cocktail. It was an experience; one that I don’t want to repeat.
Bed & Wine at Sleepy Creek Vineyards
Another unique factor about Sleepy Creek Vineyards is that they aren’t just a winery. Sleepy Creek Vineyards also offer accommodation for those who want to take a quick getaway from the average daily routine. The accommodation is known as Bed & Wine, instead of Bed & Breakfast. As someone who travels, I think this is a creative way to include both accommodation and the winery into the fold. The Bed & Wine is located right above the tasting area and can accommodate up until 10 people. There is a kitchen, Wi-Fi, heating, etc. Check out the website for more information or to reserve the room!
A vineyard in East Central Illinois
The exact location of Sleepy Creek Vineyards is actually in between Danville and Champaign-Urbana. Since we live in Champaign-Urbana, it only took us about 30 minutes to get to the winery. You will need a car to get there, but then almost every destination in the States requires a car. Directions to the winery is a bit tricky if you look it up on Google, but my family used the directions on the website and we got there alright. So, I would recommend you to use that as well. There are a few places around the area as well, such as the Middle Fork River and Slat Fork River where you can go fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. We didn’t do all that, but it sounds fun to try.
Going back soon!
I had a really pleasant experience at Sleepy Creek Vineyards. So, I might be going back there sooner than later because my family and I really enjoyed it. However, I didn’t want to just keep all of this fun to myself. You all deserve to unwind a bit, even if it’s just for the weekend or a few hours. So, if you do find yourself in Illinois, I hope you tryout some wine at Sleepy Creek Vineyards and enjoy a couple of hours there. Happy travels!