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Galena Cellars

When Robert and Joyce Lawlor followed their gut to a winemaking class in the early 1970s, they had no idea that their passion would eventually add something special to the historically charming patchwork of Galena, Illinois.

in Food & Beverages, Illinois Makers
November 01, 2017

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Ask anyone at Galena Cellars and they’ll tell you that wine enjoyed with the whole family is best when it’s handmade by the whole family.

When Robert and Joyce Lawlor followed their gut to a winemaking class in the early 1970s, they had no idea that their passion would eventually add something special to the historically charming patchwork of Galena, Illinois. Soon after the class that kick-started it all, the couple’s daughter, Christine, decided to trace her parents’ footsteps, put her teaching degree aside and earn a second degree in enology and viticulture from Fresno State University. Finishing her time studying the art and science of vineyards in the home state of wine, the teacher-turned-artisan looked to a historic post office building alongside her parents to open the family’s first of three wineries. Jumping in headfirst, the family kicked production off with a 500-barrel batch of cherry wine. And this was only the beginning.

Honing in on a number of wine recipes with her parents-turned-partners, the trio opened one more winery in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, before making the final move to Galena. As the family business spread its wings, the winery called Christine’s brother and his wife to the quaint town of Galena, where they set up shop in an old 1840s granary building on the town’s main strip.

When Robert and Joyce Lawlor followed their gut to a winemaking class in the early 1970s, they had no idea that their passion would eventually add something special to the historically charming patchwork of Galena, Illinois. From their 22 specialty grapes, 40 wine varieties are produced, totaling 60,000 gallons of wine per year. That’s one accomplishment the family enjoys toasting often. 

With craftsmanship in mind and family at the root of this Galena winery, Galena Cellars has taken home Winemaker of the Year Award by Grape Growers and Vintners Association, along with many other notable mentions. Keeping to the tradition of the tannin, the third generation of Lawlors are currently learning the art of wine as their parents did, making sure the business remains close to home.

Whether stopping in Galena for a relaxing B&B getaway or just passing through, take the time to unwind with a glass of family tradition at this local winery.

Discover more Illinois artisans at Illinois Made.


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