Fred Koehler’s mission was to “make great wine and make people happy,” says Christina Anderson-Heller, Lynfred Winery’s marketing director. Fred wanted Lynfred Winery to be an extension of your living room.
In the past several decades, the winery has worked to carry out that mission. When Lynfred Winery opened in Roselle, Illinois, in 1979, it was one of the first urban wineries in the state. Fred’s family had a history of making wine as winemakers in Germany for 200 years. Fred met Lynn when they both worked at the Itasca Country Club, and she also came from a family of winemakers.
The two began making wine in their basement for fun, but eventually decided to open up their own winery. The name of the winery comes from the combination of their names: Lynn and Fred. At first, Fred had to go out to California to convince growers to sell him grapes for Illinois since the idea was pretty unusual. Since it has opened, the winery has expanded into four locations, two winery locations and two tasting rooms. Anderson-Heller says they now have 6,000 people in their wine club.
Award-Winning Illinois Wine for 30+ Years
When people think of wines in the U.S., Illinois typically doesn’t come to mind. California dominates. But Illinois has its fair share of wineries. Lynfred is one of 115 wineries in Illinois, up from only eight in 1989, according to the New York Times.
Lynfred began turning heads after one of its wines was recognized in 1983. The winery’s Chardonnay won best in show at the Reno Wine Adventure at Harrah’s hotel and the National Restaurant Association‘s competition in Chicago. Anderson-Heller says, “We don’t really participate in competitions anymore. We prefer to just make good wine.”
With the exception of growing the grapes, Lynfred Winery handles the entire process of making wines, from crushing the grapes to bottling the wine. On average, they make between 80 and 100 varieties of wines at a time including reds, whites, rosés and fruit wines. Many of their grapes come from Washington and California, but they do get grapes from Southern Illinois and Michigan as well.
Lynfred’s Legacy Lives On
Andres Basso, director of winemaking, says that his favorite part of Lynfred is the day-to-day interaction with the customers. He explains that every day “you shake hands with everyone. They tell you what they liked, what they are really excited about, and ask when are you going to make another varietal. That kind of contact is very unique.”
Unfortunately, both Fred and Lynn have both passed on. Lynn passed away in 1984 and Fred died in 2011, but their legacy continues on.
Basso says it best: “At the end of the day, when you don’t know anything about wine, you walk into a place like this. We will try to show you the different styles, why this tastes more acidic, why this tastes sweeter. You’ll find your preferences. You’ll know more when you walk out of this place than you knew before you entered.”