Taste of the Town
June 28, 2013 • 12:14:17 p.m.

Acquaviva brings award-winning wines to St. Charles tasting room

By KARA SILVA - ksilva@shawmedia.com

Acquaviva Tasting and Wine Bar server Sally Eaves (left) pours a sampling of the winery's locally-made white wine to guests. (Kara Silva - ksilva@shawmedia.com)

If you go

WHERE: Acquaviva Tasting and Wine Bar, 214 W. Main St., St. Charles

PHONE: 630-513-6770

HOURS: 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and closed Sunday and Monday

ST. CHARLES – Acquaviva Winery’s tradition may be rooted in Bari, Italy, but the family-owned establishment has been making a splash in Illinois viticulture since its inception in Maple Park three years ago.

Offering award-winning varietals in the “European style,” a variant from other sweeter Illinois wines, Acquaviva owner Vito Brandonisio decided to expand his vino ventures and make Acquaviva’s wine more accessible by opening a wine-tasting room and deli in the Tri-Cities. Brandonisio opened the Acquaviva Tasting and Wine Bar on May 16 in downtown St. Charles.

“We’re bringing our wines to St. Charles for convenience for people living in the Tri-Cities,” Brandonisio said, adding that brand recognition and awareness “for people who didn’t realize a winery [and vineyard] existed nearby” also played a role in the decision to expand.

The wine served at the tasting room comes from locally-grown grapes at Acquaviva’s 40-acre vineyard in Maple Park.

“We make all our own wines,” said Acquaviva’s day-manager Denise Cimm. “Our wines are on the dry side and in that way we are unique.”

Fresh off a Governor’s Cup win from the 2013 Illinois State Wine Fair for its 2009 Frontenac – a dry, oak barrel-aged, medium-bodied varietal with aromas of sweet-black cherry and toasted vanilla – Brandonisio said he was elated to have won such an award for the second consecutive year and while on the back of his new location’s recent opening.

“We are proud to continue our vision and my grandfather’s legacy,” he said. “I’m thankful for everyone who took part in making this happen. It’s not only my dream but a dream for [the winery’s] future.”

Brandonisio’s family legacy began with his grandfather, Giuseppe, who owned a small vineyard in Acquaviva delle Fonti, Bari, Italy. The time Brandonisio spent on his grandfather’s vineyard instilled a love of wine and viticulture, while also birthing Brandonisio’s dream of one day owning his own vineyard. According to the winery’s website, upon moving to the U.S., Brandonisio continued his family’s winemaking tradition with his brothers – and eventually his sons and nephews – later leading to the purchasing and cultivation of 40 acres of rolling terrain in Kane County.

With six children and 16 grandchildren residing in Kane County, Brandonisio understands the value of family and cares for his wines in a similar fashion. But don’t ask him which one is his favorite – wine that is.

“Just like you love all your children equally, I love all my wine equally,” he said, sipping a glass of the 2009 Piacere – a dry medium-bodied red blend with flavors of vanilla, cocoa, mocha, black berries and caramel.

The tasting room’s rounded wood ceiling with a pair of protruding spouts – built to resemble an oak barrel – is suspended by wine-bottle-laden columns and stone walls, so customers can sip various vintages in an atmosphere resembling a wine cellar.

“[The Acquaviva Tasting and Wine Bar] is a unique place where we made a barrel room and deli to pair wines with cheeses,” he said. “We have the reputation of the Maple Park location, but we offer small plates and samples.”

The new tasting room offers nine of Acquaviva’s red and white wines to taste at $6 for six pours and serves wine by the bottle or glass ($7 to $9). Cheese and delicatessen meat sampler platters – such as the Tavolata di Salumi e Formaggi (serves two to four) with Capocollo, Mortadella, Salami and ham, served alongside Parmigiano, Provolone and Asiago – as well as Italian and American sub sandwiches are served, according to Cimm.

The tasting room is also fit with an outdoor patio, where barbecues take place all day every Saturday.

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