Edward Russell>ISM Interviews M-Z>ISM Interviews M-Z, Segment 7


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Edward Russell was born September 22, 1943. Was an iron worker for a career.
After retiring from construction, he wanted to grow table grapes and enrolled in courses at Shawnee College to learn how. Met other students who were growing wine grapes. They told him that it is easier to find a place to sell wine than to sell table grapes and he started growing wine grapes. Started networking with other wine grapes growers. Shawnee College had three courses on grape growing 1) preparing the vineyard, 2) maintaining the vines, and 3) the spraying of chemicals. Took a course at Shawnee College on wine making. Took a five week course with Allen Dillard on wine making. Has some consultants who are wine makers who help in through the processes. Calls wine making a science. Each winemaker has a different style. It is quite extensive, not as simple as it looks.
His wife runs the kitchen and does the book keeping. He runs the vineyard and does the marketing and business end of the operation.
Was always interested in vineyards, orchards. Worked in them as a kid. He hasn't always wanted to grow grapes, but he's always been around it so it was an easy transition. Southern Illinois has historically been orchard country, now it is reduced to a handful of orchards. Many people come to his vineyard from Chicago and all over the country after retiring looking to start growing grapes. Thinks everyone wants to be close to the earth. The climate is nice. A few weeks of real bad weather but on average, it is not bad. One of the reasons people like to settle there. Knows of people who move here from Florida.
Started growing grapes in 2000. Started selling grapes in 2004/2005. Winery has been open since May 2007. Opening a winery is very intense process with a lot of planning, and some luck. You need good grapes to make a good wine. Makes him happy when people tell him his wine is good and they buy multiple bottles of different kinds.