Bubbly from the 'burbs: Suburban sparkling winemakers riding wave of popularity
When it's time to toast, there's no better option than popping open a bottle of bubbly -- and sparkling wine is more popular than ever.
The worldwide sparkling wine market is expected to reach $32.6 billion by 2026, an annual growth rate of 7.1%, according to an industry report issued earlier this month. And you don't have to look to Europe to find good options for your holiday celebrations.
Local vineyards are producing sparkling wine and owners say they are making and selling more these days.
Mark Wenzel, the founder and winemaker at Illinois Sparkling Company in North Utica, said the Chicago market has embraced sparkling wine. He'd even go so far as to describe the last five years as a sparkling wine craze.
While people's idea of sparkling wine is usually confined to champagne from France or prosecco from Italy, Wenzel said there are many other varieties and flavors of sparkling wine. ISC sells 10 different wines but all use grapes grown in Illinois.
Christina Anderson-Heller of Lynfred Winery in Roselle said both their sparkling and still wine business has been brisk since the pandemic lockdowns.
"During COVID the one thing people didn't give up on was wine consumption," Anderson-Heller said.
Anderson-Heller, the winery's marketing director, said the winery hosted wine appreciation and wine-tasting events over Zoom including ones featuring sparkling wines when people weren't able to go out.
Susanne Bullock, Wenzel's sister and the marketing manager at ISC, said customers seek them out because they want to do a better job of supporting local businesses.
"When people find something that is good and local, that's twice as nice for them," Bullock said.
Anderson-Heller said while more people are coming around to the idea, many are still shocked when they learn wine is made in the suburbs.
"I've been at the winery for 23 years and when I started people would learn the great wine they just had was from Roselle and their mouths would drop," Anderson-Heller said. "Great wine can come from anywhere."
Anderson-Heller said she's glad bubbly wines are getting more popular and that she often pops open a bottle of sparkling wine at her house at around 4 p.m.
"I am the queen of bubbles," Anderson-Heller said. "Every day is a day to celebrate."