ELKVILLE - Southern Illinois' newest winery offers wine enthusiasts convenient access and a relaxing atmosphere.

Anita Eckhardt opened Lyn-Nita Vineyards in Elkville Nov. 19 and said so far business has been good. Eckhardt said the new winery has been in the works for well over a year, and although she doesn't have wine making experience, her full-time employee in charge of wine making has worked at several Southern Illinois wineries.

She said the vineyard was planted last spring and until the grapes coming in the winery is producing blended wines made from Southern Illinois grapes.

Eckhardt said the winery offers seven varieties of wine, with three more varieties due out in spring 2011. Eckhardt said so far the response to Lyn-Nita Vineyards has been positive.

"People who have tried my wines, they are coming back," Eckhardt said. She said she thinks the location of her winery is convenient for people looking for a quick trip to a winery before moving on to other activities.

Eckhardt said she wanted her winery to feel like home and welcoming to people looking to relax and unwind. She said the winery's slogan is "come have some fun on highway 51."

"I've tried to make it look like what maybe your home would look like," she said. "So you come in and you feel at ease, so if you want to sit down and work a puzzle or read the newspaper or just grab a magazine and kind of relax you can.

"People, they have so many things to do they just never take the time to relax" she added. "I'm hoping people feel comfortable to just sit a while."

Eckhardt said the winemaking community in Southern Illinois has been helpful and welcoming to her on her new venture.

"All the wineries down here have been just wonderful," she said. "They don't view it as a competition; they actually view it as something good for the business.

"Right now nobody feels like the market is over-saturated just yet," she added. "They feel like it's good to have more wineries here."

In addition to wine, Lyn-Nita Vineyards also sells jams and jellies from the Amish community and plans to offer handcrafted items in the future.


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