Illinois Made businesses, products honored

The Illinois Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism continues to recognize products which are created in the Land of Lincoln through the recently launched Illinois Made program.

Three area businesses were saluted last week by the state office – Apple Knocker Hard Cider, which is produced and bottled at Owl Creek Vineyard near near Cobden, Longshadow Gardens near Pomona and Scratch Brewing Company in Ava.

In announcing recognition of Apple Knocker Hard Cider, the Office of Tourism noted that winemaker and now brewer and cider maker Brad Genung had an epiphany one day while driving between his family farm and winery in Southern Illinois.

After observing acres of apple orchards on his route, he set off on a quest to study the art of cider.

Then, after traveling halfway across the world to learn from the best, he returned home to craft.

Somewhere between the “hops” of a beer brewer and the oak barrels of a winemaker, Genung found his sweet spot, but not too sweet, the cider itself aims for the drier side, uniquely American style hard cider.

“We are pleased and humbled by this recognition,” Genung said in a news release announcing the honor.

“We strive to produce quality, innovative hard ciders that reflect the capabilities of our partner growers and the wine production culture of the Shawnee Hills.”

Apple Knocker Hard Ciders are the first local ciders in the Shawnee Hills region.

The ciders are described as a reinvention of a classic American beverage of choice, melded with the influences of modern wine making and craft brewing.

Apple Knocker craft ciders are naturally fermented in small batches made from local apples grown by Flamm and Rendleman orchards.

After he was honored on Sept. 28, Genung gave a tour of his facility to the director of the state Office of Tourism, Cory Jobe.

Longshadow Gardens is located on 123 acres in rural Pomona.

At Longshadow Gardens, Charlotte and Daniel Ward create works of art that have helped to beautify gardens around the world, and right here in Southern Illinois.

Garden planters are handcrafted by artisans, using materials that include local Bedford limestone.

Though they are all made in Illinois, Longshadow planters can be found all over the world, from the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas and Dubai to Chicago’s Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium.

Scratch Bewing Company near Ava is located in a farmhouse. Brewers create regional beers from local wild ingredients, such as black trumpet mushrooms and sassafras, rather than relying on traditional hops and grains.

Launched in July, Illinois Made is an ongoing program that recognizes the artisans, products and experiences that are unique to the state.

The program offers Illinois Made inspired travel ideas at which are designed to encourage people to extend their travel beyond a day trip by exploring local businesses and attractions which are nearby.

Online, visitors can get a glimpse into the lives of these crafts people through video, in-depth editorial features that allow visitors to dive deeper into the unique story behind each maker’s establishment and an interactive map highlighting other travel amenities and attractions near the maker’s location, allowing visitors to build a customized travel itinerary.

“We know that travelers are prioritizing experiences over things. Illinois is home to a thriving culture of artisans and craftspeople who appeal to anyone looking for authentic, out of the ordinary experiences,” Jobe said.

“By profiling the stories of these makers and how the state of Illinois shapes their work through “Illinois Made,” we hope to inspire both new and repeat travelers to discover the gems they didn’t know about on a trip to Illinois.”

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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