In the early 1970s, when Robert and Joyce Lawlor enrolled in a winemaking class in Cedar Rapids, they had no idea they were lighting the spark of a family business that would grow into the award-winning Galena Cellars. Their daughter Christine was so intrigued that she was one of the first women to earn a degree in enology and viticulture from Fresno State University.
Today, Galena Cellars produces more than 40 varieties and 60,000 gallons of wine annually. In an effort to find a unique grape—one that grows better in Northern Illinois than anywhere else—the winery grows 22 experimental varietals in collaboration with the Northern Illinois Wine Growers and the University of Illinois. It is Christine’s dream to identify the region’s signature grape and then introduce it to wine lovers everywhere.
Galena Cellars has brought an impressive number of exceptional wines to the table. In the 2011 Illinois State Fair wine competition alone, the winery received 18 awards, including the Governor’s Cup for its Lacrosse wine, a white table wine produced from Illinois-grown fruit. Christine was also voted Illinois Winemaker of the Year in 2001, 2006, and 2007 by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association and works tirelessly on behalf of Illinois viticulture.
Galena Cellars has three tasting rooms—one in the suburb of Geneva and two in Galena itself. The Main Street Galena tasting room and gift shop is housed in a charming restored 1840s granary building, complete with a relaxing wine patio. For a real treat, wine tourists can take a short drive to the winery’s beautiful vineyard, with panoramic views. Guests can also tour the vineyard, learn more about the wines, and perhaps even spend the night. The vineyard offers a cozy guest suite and a country farmhouse ideal for any retreat that would be nicer set among the vines that grow Galena Cellars wines.