USS Illinois Christened With Illinois Sparkling
What better way is there to christen the Navy’s newest submarine, the USS Illinois, than with bubbly produced in the state from where it derived its name?
On October 10, 2015, the USS Illinois was christened with a bottle of bubbly produced by Illinois Sparkling Co. The name of the sparkling wine, Blend 786, was inspired by the USS Illinois’ ship number — SSN 786.
‘We were very excited when Electric Boat, the builder of this magnificent submarine, called and said they would like to use our sparkling wine for the event. We knew we wanted to create something special for this historic occasion, so we chose to use a special 2010 vintage blend that had been in tirage for 4 ½ years.” said Mark Wenzel. Mark is the winemaker, and he and his wife Teri are owners of Illinois Sparkling Co.
Blend 786 is made from 100% Illinois-grown grapes and is an extra dry blend with notes of honey and green apple along with plenty of Prairie State pride. This sparkler was created using the traditional method, the same labor intensive method that is used to make Champagnes in France.
Illinois Sparkling Co.’s vineyard and winery are located in Peru, Illinois and the August Hill Winery/Illinois Sparkling Co. tasting room is in Utica, Illinois. You can also find Illinois Sparkling Co. wines throughout the Chicagoland area at places like Moto Restaurant, Seven Lions, Pops for Champagne, and Knife & Tine as well as at retail locations like Whole Foods and Binny’s. Limited quantities of Blend 786 are going to be available at the Illinois Sparkling Co. tasting room beginning November 1, the day of the Utica Veteran’s Day Parade.
An 8′ model of the USS Illinois will be on display in the Tasting Room following the parade. Submarine Veterans will be on hand to answer questions. Illinois Sparkling Co. has received notable recognition in the past few years, receiving two Jefferson Cup awards at the 2013 Jefferson Cup International and Best of Show at the 2014 and 2015 Illinois State Fair wine competition. Winemaker Mark Wenzel was named ‘Winemaker of the Year” in both 2013 and 2014 by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association.