The gift-giving holiday season brings with it not only increased sales for retailers but for local wineries. Industry experts said nationwide holiday wine sales increased 6 percent in 2009.
Local wine makers say they too see an uptick in sales around the holidays.
Jim Ewers, general manager at Blue Sky Vineyards in Makanda, said they see an increase in wine sales around the holidays, mostly by people making sure they have wine for a holiday meal. Ewers said November and December are big months for sales compared to January, which traditionally has marked a two-month post-holiday lull in sales.
But Ewers said it's the month preceding the holidays that is the busiest at his winery.
"Without a question our busiest month of the year is October," he said. "The weather's beautiful, it's harvest season and people just associate that with going to the wineries."
Ewers said wines that are traditionally paired with holiday food are popular this time of year and he talks with customers about classic wine pairings, but believes people should purchase a wine they like.
"To me it's more important to drink a wine that you like," he said. "If it is a wine that you like, and it doesn't traditionally go with a white meat, drink what you like. That's what it's all about. I don't like to push someone into their non-comfort zone with a wine."
Gary Orlandini of Orlandini Vineyards said wineries along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail have been growing by leaps and bounds for more than a decade. He said the wine trail has grown by 28 percent each year since the middle 1990s.
"We're growing every year, and I don't see us slowing down anytime soon," he said.
Orlandini said he sees an increase in sales around the holidays, but one variety, Saluki Red, takes off during the holiday season.
"A lot of people buy that (Saluki Red) during the holidays to take home as gifts," he said. "Say Uncle Fred, Uncle Fred graduated from SIU and he lives in Chicago. So when they go up to Chicago instead of giving him a tie with a horse on it like they have for the last three years, they give him a bottle of Saluki Red."
Orlandini said the holiday season is important for sales along the wine trail. He said giving wine as a gift is typically a bit easier than giving clothes from a department store.
"I've never had a bottle of wine returned yet because it was the wrong color or wrong size."