Barely thirty miles outside the noisy and congested Loop in downtown Chicago lies an award-winning winery & bed and breakfast that is truly a welcomed surprise of luxurious New and Old World charm.

Welcome to Lynfred Winery
Bed & Breakfast.

For over 25 winemaking years, Lynfred Winery and Bed and Breakfast has been ever improving at its 15 South Roselle Road, Roselle, Illinois location. Not only is it the oldest winery in the state of Illinois, but it has been the culmination of the passion of a visionary husband and wife team, Lyn and Fred Koehler, for even longer. With the combination of both of their names into the winery's moniker, Lynfred, they have a sense of humor and a down-to-earth quality that is quite refreshing in the often stuffy world of wine. Their journey and expansion hasn't always been easy, but Lynfred Winery and Bed & Breakfast is a proven underdog that is finally having its day.

There's no need to travel any further than the gently rolling Great Plains of the good old USA to experience a record setting winery that has a luxurious bed and breakfast that brings the authentic elegance of France, Italy, Germany and America to you. Lynfred Winery will soon celebrate its 25th wine-producing anniversary while producing an astounding 54 award winning types of wine. Yes, that's more varieties than any other winery throughout the United States, considering most only produce a handful of varieties of wine, at best.

Chicago's Lynfred Winery is
a two story B&B with lush vines.

From these 50+ varieties, Lynfred Winery makes over 25,000 cases, or 76,000 gallons of wine annually, and is nowhere near Napa or Sonoma on any map or globe I've consulted. In addition to Lynfred's latest chip-off-the-old-vine, their wine tasting room and store in Wheaton, Illinois, cleverly called Tasting deVine, their must visit overnight destination is Lynfred's Bed & Breakfast. It's located above the ivy covered Roselle winery and has recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. No passport is needed to take an easy trip to some of the birthplaces of great wine while staying overnight in any of Innkeeper Kelly Staubus' four themed sumptuous suites.

When I say "themed," I certainly don't mean a cheesy attempt at European craftsmanship, like a Yugo automobile. If Lynfred Winery Bed & Breakfast were an automobile, it would be a well-crafted, affluent, driving pleasure like an Aston Martin. With the Bed & Breakfast, Fred Koehler must have had followed similar words of advice like I received from my college creative writing teacher when he etched these memorable words of wisdom forever in my brain, "Do something small well."

Initially, you may think that it's an unaffordable dream to go around the world, let alone on a grapevine. Once you experience Lynfred Winery's Bed & Breakfast for yourself, you will fully understand that it's still very reasonably priced considering all the custom amenities and top-notch individual service guests receive. The staff is courteous, genuine, helpful, and yet, very down-to-earth.

Lynfred Winery owner, Fred Koehler,
has won many wine varietal awards.

It is obvious that Fred Kohler has traveled the world over and has scrutinized many other posh resorts and their customer service to combine the best touches into his own masterpiece. Just as it takes 680 perfect Cabernet grapes for a winemaker to make one single bottle of Cabernet wine, it takes a number of great ideas combined into one benchmark raising bed and breakfast reality to be called Lynfred Winery Bed and Breakfast. This is surely a credit to Fred himself, since he's quite a successful businessman who exhibits what the French call joie de vivire. For instance, every year at the winery to celebrate Fred's birthday, a huge party is held, and all guests aptly named Fred get in for free. If you aren't fortunate enough to be named Fred, it'll cost you $25 to buy a name tag. Of course, your four-letter alias for this fun wine filled evening will be none other than "Fred."

Continuing on our wayfaring around the globe on a grapevine, either a map or an individual wine tasting palette must be consulted. No matter which country you select, each of the four luxurious suites at Lynfred Winery Bed & Breakfast allows each guest to take a journey just by splurging on an unforgettable night surrounded by high-end furnishings, tumbled marble, lush textiles, and the latest cutting edge technology.

Above: The German Suite.

Above: Imported grape chandelier
in the French Suite.

Below:  The American Suite.

Do you prefer to sip Gewürztraminer and stay in old world Germany surrounded by deep rich colors such as forest green, tan and burgundy, paired with its detailed woodwork and its acorn theme? Maybe, the sophisticated charm of lighter, softer colors like pink, yellow and white will bring back memories enjoying crusty bread, white wine and Brie near Arles, and it will set the mood for romance while staying in the French suite? The handicapped accessible American suite with its warm atmosphere created by its clean-lined Arts and Crafts woodwork, and authentic mission-style Stickley furniture is a respectful nod to one very famous architect that built a plethora of masterpieces throughout the gently rolling plains of Illinois, and Wisconsin—Frank Lloyd Wright. But, for our journey around the world on a grapevine, we jetted off to the country that is home to big, bold red wines and architectural wonders like the Sistine Chapel and the Leaning Tower of Pisa and enjoyed every single aspect of the spacious Italian suite. Prior to this, we enjoyed ourselves sampling a few meritorious Lynfred wines.

Upon entering the usually well-packed wine tasting room, my wife and I were treated to a private after-hours wine tasting at their huge "L" shaped bar. With so many wines available, choosing from their considerable selection of 14 dry whites, two premium whites, six off dry whites, 17 dry reds, two premium reds, four light reds, six specialty wines, 13 fruit wines, one sweet red, one blush, four dessert wines, and two spiced wines took quite a toll. But, we somehow managed to struggle our way through one liquidious gem-filled glass after another. It's all in the name of securing the full experience for our feature
story, I thought.

The Lynfred Winery tasting room with
decorative carved panel bar.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that yet another perk from this B&B package allows guests to choose a few bottles of their favorite wine to continue enjoying upstairs in their suite. After a long day, we were slightly buzzed, but now very perplexed: Do we enjoy more Lynfred wine as we strip naked and conduct a Brahms concerto playing from hidden speakers in the huge Italianesque bathroom while we soak in the bubble-filled Jacuzzi tub big enough for two? Or, do we imbibe more wine as we slow dance beneath the massive rain showerheads in the glorious tumbled marble walk-in shower as the rising steam creates a London sized fog?

Top: Master bath with mosaic marble counter, and wine screw faucets.

Bottom: Richly paneled breakfast room and riddling rack dining table.

Either way, drying off with a big, thirsty heated bath towel and wrapping ourselves in Lynfred Winery Bed & Breakfast embroidered terrycloth robes could be the icing on the cake. Whatever way you decide to acclimate to your suite, don't forget to nibble on some rich homemade Lynfred chocolates made by Lynfred's own Chef Chris. For me, being an Interior Designer by day and Jetsetters Travel Writer by night, I wanted to take my time soaking in the rich aesthetics of our wonderful suite.

In the main room, or living room, the antique tortoise shell and ivory antique cameo above the pink Italian marble fireplace hearth was quite a sight to behold. A large rich floral tapestry hung on one wall beneath the oak crown molding and was across from an impressive armoire nestled into a niche in the wall. I thought that both pieces could easily be home in one of the Medici residences. Italian candelabra chandeliers, and sconces lit the seating arrangement and wet bar with a soft, warm glow while nearly everywhere I looked beautiful arrangements of fresh cut roses and lilies greeted me with their sweet scent.

The sitting area with marble
hearth & tortoise shell cameo
with inlaid ivory detail!

One of our favorite touches was the heated tile floors in the bedroom and bathroom that kept our always cold feet quite cozy as we relished the Italian refinement and atmosphere of our suite. The white and mosaic tumbled marble bathroom, with its four grand columns around the aforementioned tub, was our own private spa. More fresh cut and arranged yellow lilies softened the hard edges as a statue of Venus presided over this place of rest. Two raised ceramic bowl sinks rested below two large silver grape leaf framed mirrors as they gazed over the room with approval. Moving on to the bedroom, it carried forth the same rust, yellow and light green color palette from the main living room. A large acanthus leaf adorned headboard graced the massive low four-poster king sized bed that was covered by a rust colored toile cameo print of angels, and Greek heroes. Each cameo told a different tale while set against a soft yellow background. An oversized scroll detailed, lions paw, dark wood armoire helped anchor the room and balance the oversized bed. Nearby, a yellow botanical printed wooden upholstered armchair with ball and claw legs added more old world grace to this extremely well decorated suite. Soft yellow, rust and light green colored floral area floor rugs provided an intimate space within a much larger space, and cushioned our feet as we sipped wine, noshed on chocolate and hors d'oeuvres as we admired the impressive interior design of our Italian suite prior to drifting off in a deep, restful sleep.

Winery view from glass floor above.

The next morning we were in for quite a surprise—again. Hours before we awoke, Chef Chris, one of two Lynfred Winery Culinary School of America Chefs, was firing up the wood burning stove and preparing a breakfast suitable for royalty. His fabulous cinnamon raisin and almond iced roles are to die for! No matter how many you eat, you still crave just one more. During breakfast, I did my best to prove the economic theory of diminishing marginal utility wrong. In this case, this theory essentially correlates that once you reach your saturation point, you lose interest and desire for that which you originally craved. Well, wake the kids and phone the neighbors! I successfully proved yet another theory wrong.

After getting ready for breakfast, we chatted with Kristina, the Lynfred Winery Newsletter guru and our future tour guide as we wandered the dark oak wainscoted, and port red velvet wallpapered walls in this arts and crafts style breakfast room proudly showcasing numerous wine competition awards garnered throughout the years. We seated ourselves at the large square glass topped champagne riddling rack table in front of the wine bottle label tiled fireplace and perused one of the many scrapbooks that Lyn Koehler filled by documenting Lynfred Winery's history, prior to her passing in 1984. As the multi-course breakfast feast began, we each enjoyed a bowl of fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries topped with a fresh sprig of mint from Lynfred's herb garden. Next, we savored some of the many breads, muffins, etc. as each was accompanied with a dollop of Lynfred's tasty peach pie jam, spiced blueberry jam, and the hands down winner, the spicy jalapeño jam. My entrée alone was worth the price of admission. I had outstanding sourdough and cabernet pancakes smothered with apple wine sauce and sliced apples. These were the best I've ever eaten, and Kim, who rarely eats pancakes, was begging to trade her ham, cheese and scallion omelet. She admitted that her breakfast was also very good, including the fresh bacon, and a carved orange topped with grapes and a sprig of mint. After feasting, it was time for our private guided tour of the Lynfred winery, cellar and property.

Left: One of many carts stuffed with grapes starts off the wine making process. Below: The grapes are crushed in the Crusher.

Then the juice is off to the huge stainless steel wine tanks.

Right: Then fill the oak wine barrels for fermentation.

Below: The wine is stored in the below ground wine cave.

We were privileged to go behind the scenes, into the wine cellars, to see their latest batch of plum wine pumped into massive tanks, and meet more of the key Lynfred employees, including the very amiable winery owner, Fred Koehler, winemaker Doug, and Chef Chris. Of course, plenty of not yet released barrel tastings of numerous fruit, white, and red wines were included, so keep your wine glass handy as they generously pour samplings. As we sipped some very fine 25th Anniversary Heritage red wine while chatting with Fred Koehler, we seized the moment for a picture perfect photo opportunity. Being wine harvest, numerous arrivals of tons of grapes were keeping the winery abuzz with excitement and had cellar employees scurrying like Santa's little elves. Moving on to the kitchen, Kristina introduced us to Chef Chris, who was bagging some fresh bread to be sold in their massive gourmet gift shop. Yes, all the fruits received at Lynfred Winery are also used by Chef Chris for gourmet jams, pies, breads, and everything yummy that can be purchased in their well stocked gift shop.

With a flight to catch at nearby O'Hare Airport, we were sad to leave the genuine kindness, generosity, and true appreciation that Lynfred employees exhibited toward us. Prior to departing, Kristina lavished us with one final gift, an extremely generous goody bag that easily topped those that Hollywood stars receive at movie premiers. Once again, we were made to feel like honored guests who had traveled around the world on a grapevine while staying at the regal Lynfred Winery Bed and Breakfast.

Wine baskets, bags, totesAs we were slowly driving down the winding cobblestone driveway, exiting the Lynfred Winery and Bed and Breakfast property we were again re-entering reality from a magically unbelievable experience just like the old television show, Fantasy Island. No time for sadness because a beaming Mr. Rourke is there somewhere in your head gently reminding you, "Smiles everyone, smiles."

By Don and Kim Tatera, Southern California Correspondents.