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Why is the Shawnee Hills Region so Unique?

Technical Summary


The name is derived from the Shawnee Hills Indians who occupied these hills in the early 1800's.The area is an un-glaciated 800 to 1,000 foot ridge of limestone extending from the Mississippi to Ohio rivers in southern Illinois.


Elevation ranges from 400 to 800 feet higher than the glaciated land to the North and the delta/coastal land to the South.  Most of Illinois' highest elevations, many above 1,000 feet are located within the Shawnee Hills American Viticultural Area.


Maintain a unique meso-climate with warmer winter temperatures and a longer growing season resulting from higher elevations.


Karst topography with limestone bedrock sinkholes, caves and surface springs.


Primarily thin loess soils, ("loess", a German term meaning loose)Superior surface and internal water drainage. Soils are well-drained and low in fertility.

General Information



  • The Shawnee Hills AVA was put into law on December 27, 2006


  • The boundaries of the AVA encompass 2,139 square miles and 1,368,960 acres with approximately 300 acres of grapes and growing


  • Approximately 20 wineries and 55 vineyards are located within the AVA boundaries


What is Terroir



Terroir is the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including such factors as soil, topography and climate.


Climate:  The Shawnee Hills maintains a warmer climate and a longer growing season allowing for the fruit to fully ripen prior to harvest.  This tends to generate higher sugar levels, producing higher alcohol wines and the wines display fresh, ripe fruit aromas and flavors.


Soil:  Shawnee Hills soils are primarily thin, loess or loose soils that allow for better drainage and are low in fertility.


Terrain:  Altitude is an increasingly important focus for quality vineyards.  The Shawnee Hills region elevation ranges from 400 - 800 feet higher than the glaciated land to the North and the delta/coastal land to the South.  Karst topography with limestone bedrock, sinkholes, caves and surface springs are typical of Shawnee Hills terrain.


Primary Grape Varieties Grown Within the Shawnee Hills AVA










Cabernet Franc


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