A Timeline of Alto Vineyards History
1982 - Guy Renzaglia, newly-retired from Southern Illinois University, decides to acquire a 13-acre piece of land in Alto Pass, IL to plant a vineyard. Guy puts in French-American hybrid grapes that had been deemed impossible to flourish in the area, and gets an excellent response, soon producing quality fruit.
1985 - Guy's son, Paul, came back home to southern Illinois to attend graduate school, and decided to help establish his father's dream of a quality vineyard.
1986 - Alto Vineyards sold its first vintage of grapes to the Kohler Family at Lynfred Winery in the Chicago area. At the time, there were only 38 acres of commercial grapes being grown in the state of Illinois.
1988 - In May, construction began on a small 600 sq. ft. winery. In December, Alto Vineyards released it's first 1,500 gallons of Illinois wine and sold out in 3 days. At the time, there were only 6 other wineries in the state of Illinois.
1989 - Alto Vineyards wins its first medals in international wine competition. Chambourcin wine begins to develop recognition as one of the finest wines in the country.
1995 - Alto Vineyards builds a new addition to the original building, and expands production from 3,000 gallons to 8,000 gallons.
1997 - Alto Vineyards wine festivals start drawing large crowds of people ranging from 800 to 1,200 per day.
2000 - Wine production is increased from 8,000 gallons to 25,000 gallons to keep up with demand.
2001 - Alto Vineyards breaks ground in Champaign for a second outlet located near the University of Illinois. Paul's sister, Adelle, her husband Jim, and their family, begin selling Alto Vineyards wine in central Illinois, culminating in the opening of a second Alto Vineyards in Champaign, Illinois just minutes from the downtown and campus areas of the city.
2003 - Paul's daughter, Elissa, begins career at Alto Vineyards, continuing the family-owned and operated tradition with the 3rd generation of Renzaglia family.
2004 - Alto Vineyards builds new outdoor pavilion and seating to accommodate growing crowds at annual wine festivals.
2012 - Alto Vineyards begins construction on a new 5,000 square foot facility on estate.
To Present Day - Alto Vineyards has won over 800 national and international awards in wine competitions across the nation, and numerous members of the family have worked or are working in various roles to usher in a 3rd generation of the Renzaglia family working within the business. During this span, awards include 2 Jefferson Cups and 2 Illinois Wine Maker of the Year awards for Paul. Despite success, Alto Vineyards never forgets the family philosophy to produce the highest quality wines possible because this is our passion, and we want to share it with you.