The Vineyard Starts from the Ground Up
Rosario was born and raised in Illinois and will keep his roots in Illinois. He once considered pulling up his roots and starting his vineyard in Napa Valley, California but, his love of Illinois and his family helped him decide against it. So, he built his vineyard at home in Illinois instead. He wants his wine to help his state of Illinois to become known as a fine wine state. While seeking a location to follow his dreams, he heard people talk about a beautiful area of Illinois called Galena and began searching in that area for the perfect location to make his start. After 4 months of searching high and low around Galena, he came across a piece of property that fit his vision just 15 minutes outside of Galena in Hanover, Illinois. The property was a stretch of land with nothing on it except rich soil and grass but, it was the land he had seen in his dreams. In 1999, he purchased 46 acres of this land and dug his shovel in.
He was excited over the prospects of building a grand vineyard and winery on this land and quickly prepared the soil and planted his first vines in 2000. But, he failed to prepare the soil correctly for growing grapes in this climate and his early vines didn't do well.
To correct the problem, Rosario did plenty of research on grape growing and took wine classes in Missouri and Minnesota on how to prepare the soil for growing grapes in a cold climate. He took his newfound knowledge back to Illinois and prepared the soil at his vineyard and planted 1300 new plants of 8 different grape varieties, in a 2 ½ acre area. Some of the varieties included Cabernet Franco, Traminette, Foch, and Leon Millot. Most are French hybrids specially suited to Illinois growing conditions.
Staying within his Italian roots, Rosario wanted to make a Chianti style wine. He grows Leon Millot grapes which are 100% Illinois grown grapes and makes the wine in a Tuscan style which gives him a wine that is the closest he can come to a true Chianti wine.
Throughout the past few years, Rosario has had his ups and downs growing grapes in his vineyard and has learned from his mistakes and improved the final product. It is a labor of love that he takes very seriously.
For example, his Cabernet Franc requires more attention and is like a "baby" to him. He cares for it and respects its needs. Sometimes this means going through extra efforts to protect the precious vines from freezing temperatures and harsh winds over the winter.
Rosario is in no great rush to put his wine out on the market. He is taking his time to get everything done right and working to grow the best tasting grapes he can produce. There are two elements to creating an excellent wine, one people will enjoy and rave about, and they are great grapes and great winemaking skills. He is working everyday to achieve both of these.
Rosario's winery is a special place for family and friends to gather that he wants to share with everyone. It's opening as a boutique winery and it's going to stay a boutique winery. He wants to keep his winery special…unique. Rosario's not a boaster. He just enjoys people smiling and enjoying life and sharing hospitality.
His winery is going to be an Illinois winery with mostly Illinois grown grapes. He's opening it locally and it's going to stay local.
Rosario also wants to produce the best wine he can make. So, he also imports some California grapes and produces wines with them. Although Illinois is a great place to grow wine, it doesn't have the same growing season as California. He will do whatever it takes for you, the consumer and friend, to have the class of fine wine you deserve. Fergedaboudit wines have won several bronze, silver, and gold medals in Illinois state wine competitions.