Over 25 years ago, Paul Renzaglia never would have thought that a family venture would have such a profound effect on Southern Illinois and its community. From the very first plantings in 1982, the Renzaglia family and Alto Vineyards were committed to introducing a new industry to the region. President and wine maker Paul Renzaglia even felt like he was stepping into unknown territory. “At first I was scared that this venture would not go anywhere. But now I’ve seen the tremendous growth and popularity of the industry in Illinois and I am just amazed as to what has come of it,” he said. Although an appreciation of wine is deeply rooted in the Renzaglia family, improving the lives of others was Paul’s first passion. He completed his Bachelor’s degree at SIU in Administration of Justice and moved on to work with troubled youth in the St. Louis and Chicago areas. Paul returned to Southern Illinois 10 years later to enroll in the Special Education graduate program at SIU, and was quickly recruited by his father, Guy Renzaglia, as a partner.
A TIMELINE OF ALTO VINEYARDS HISTORY
1985 – Guy’s son Paul came back home to attend Graduate School and decided to help establish his father’s dream.
1986 – Sold first vintage of grapes to the Kohler Family at Lynfred Winery in 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 sells out in 3 days. At the time, there were only 6 other wineries in the state of Illinois.
1989 – Alto Vineyards wins 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 new addition to the original building and expands production from 3,000 gallons to 8,000 gallons.
1997 – Alto Vineyards wine festivals start drawing crowds of people, from 800 to 1,200 per day.
2000 – Wine production increases 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 and husband Jim and family begin selling Alto Vineyards wine in Central Illinois.
2003 – Paul’s daughter Elissa begins career at Alto Vineyards. Continuing tradition with 3rd generation of Renzaglia family.
2004 – Alto Vineyards builds new outdoor pavilion and seating to accommodate growing crowds at annual wine festivals.
To Present Day – Alto Vineyards has Won over 500 National and International awards in wine competitions across the nation, never forgetting the family philosophy to produce the highest quality wines possible.