The Trombino family of Antioch has decades of experience in office product and technology sales, but it’s the business of making award-winning wine that could become their lasting legacy.
“We did a 180. It’s a hobby turned business,” said Debra Trombino, winemaker and co-owner of Vigneto del Bino Vineyard & Winery, located on 10 acres along Crawford Road, off Route 173.
With a surplus of land, Trombino and her parents, Jim and Donna Trombino, decided to grow grapes in the spring of 2009. They use American, French and German-hybrid grape varietals known to sustain cold Illinois winters and a shorter growing cycle.
“A lot of research went into it,” said Trombino, who still works in the tech industry but returned to school to earn a certificate in viticulture. Her father took classes as well.
“He was the brains behind laying out the vineyard,” she said.
Their first harvest was in 2011. Today, the vineyard has 2,300 vines covering four acres, with another four acres available for future growth.
The winery was first housed in the warehouse of the family’s technology business until a winery building, along with a tasting room and gift shop, was built in the summer of 2012.
There are 105 wineries in Illinois, Trombino said, but in Lake County, there are just two – theirs and Valentino Vineyards & Winery in Long Grove.
Vigneto del Bino makes grape wine from its own grapes and also source from three local vineyards that don’t have wineries attached.
Harvesting usually takes place mid to late August through the end of September. This year’s harvesting was ahead of schedule as a result of good weather, Trombino said.
“We had a great crop this year. The grapes were able to ripen without too much moisture.”
All of the grapes are hand-picked and “everybody likes to harvest,” Trombino said.
Planting, pruning and harvesting the vineyard is a family affair, with Trombino's children and her three sisters helping out along with their children and spouses.
After harvesting, the grapes are crushed and de-stemmed before they are pressed into juice to begin fermentation. The aging process lasts six to eight months. Each harvest yields 5,000 to 6,000 bottles of wine, including all categories of white and red, from dry to sweet.
The winery has already sold out of six varieties, leaving nine available.
White wines for sale include semi-dry Brianna and Frontenac Gris and semi-sweet Summer Shanty and Sweet Gris.
Available reds include semi-dry Sabrevois, Red Fusion and Frontenac, semi-dry/sweet Bino’s Blend and semi-sweet Sweet Frontenac, which won a double gold medal this summer at the Illinois State Fair Wine Competition in Springfield.
All wines are 10 to 14 percent alcohol. Prices range from $17 to $25 a bottle. Tastings are available for a fee.
Vigneto del Bino’s wines are not sold anywhere else, but they are considering local business distribution for the future, which is dependent upon the growth of the winery.
In addition to the tasting room and gift shop, which sells an assortment of handmade wine-related gift items from local artisans, the winery hosts private parties and events for the public.
A grapevine wreath decorating program is scheduled from 4 to 6 pm. Sunday, Nov 20. A holiday celebration featuring discounts on wines, a gift basket raffle, music and food will be held Saturday, Dec. 10.
Winery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, and noon to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Learn more at www.vignetodelbino.com.