Provenance: Makanda, Illinois

Pairings: Pan-roasted veal chops with red wine and mushrooms

The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, located just south of Carbondale, Illinois, is one of the Midwest’s best-kept secrets. You’ll find popular regional varietals such as Chardonel, Chambourcin, Norton and Traminette, but also keep an eye out for the less common Cabernet Franc – especially at Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda, Illinois. Touting black plum, black cherry and peppery spice, this medium-bodied bottling features everything I love about Cabernet Franc – luscious fruit, heartwarming spiciness, judicious use of oak, bright acidity and savory herb notes on the finish.

Blue Sky Vineyard, 3150 S. Rocky Comfort Road, Makanda, Illinois, 618.995.9463,

Ryan Sciara has been in the wine business for more than half his life and has spent the past nine years dedicated to selling wine, spirits and craft beer in the retail market. His latest venture, Underdog Wine Co., is the culmination of 23 years of knowledge and experience all crammed into a 600-square-foot retail shop in Kansas City.


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