May 3, 2012

Fine art, crafts, wine and beer at American Harvest

Before I leave for Memphis with a mysterious and exotic Gypsy, I promised myself I’d get a little caught up on my blogging and in particular do a little summary of Gypsy’s most recent exhibition of her jewelry.    

We have become fast fans of American Harvest Eatery here in Springfield, Ill., and as fate would have it they sponsored an art and craft show for their 1st Birthday Extravaganza on April 22.  Gypsy had been working her networking magic at a previous American Harvest show and was invited to participate in this one. 

We arrived to set up shortly before 4 p.m. for a five hour show.  They had sectioned off the seating area to the left of the bar for the exhibitors.  Dinner seating was open to the right of the bar.  The bar, of course, would see its fair share of action later in the evening as patrons filed in for dinner and curious art lovers (or just any slack-jawed gawker, really) checked out the show.

I was in full business manager mode preparing the display.  I even made the return trip home to grab the tablecloth.

Now, I love the idea of the “sale pail” but it does look a little out of place on the table, don’t you think?  Well, what do I know about marketing anyway?

Gypsy protecting her sale pail.
The show had a decent turnout, which definitely made the evening worthwhile.  The wares begin peddled ranged from many styles of jewelry, pottery, paintings, photography and handmade clothing and pillows.  And when we weren’t mingling with other artists and making a sale or two, I spent my down time wisely, notably with my new friends at Danenberger Family Vineyards

Danenberger Family Vineyards
… and Rolling Meadows Brewery. Both were offering free samples and were very willing to discuss their products.  I came away from the evening thinking two road trips were in order.

Danenberger Family Vineyards, located just outside of New Berlin, Ill, about 15 minutes west of Springfield, is relatively new to the business. They’ve only been handcrafting their wines since 2007 and from what I recall talking to winemaker Susan Sullivan Danenberger, they are still working to get their tasting room built.  In the meantime, they’ve been giving away samples at events like these to spread the word. 

The product itself is really very tasty!  Many of the vines for their reds came from California and were painstakingly transplanted here with a lot of love and care.  And the grapes for their Riesling came from Washington, I believe.  My memory from a couple of weeks ago is a little shaky.  But I will attest to the fact that the pinot noir was velvety good. 

Rolling Meadows representing ... beer is on ice in the bucket.
Rolling Meadows Brewery is located just north of Springfield and has been selling its product on tap at nearby bars and in bottles at local liquor stores for about a year or so.  Like Danenberger Family Vineyards, they don’t have a tasting room open on the premises.  But they have quickly become very popular in and around the city. 

As I learned at the show, the brewers at Rolling Meadows are very meticulous with their organic growing techniques, which incorporate hops grown on the family farm.  And I think that local pride shows in the product.  I confess to enjoying a Lincoln Lager now and then at the Brewhaus, and I was very happy with the Springfield Wheat I sampled at the art and craft show. 

So, needless to say, between the samples and a rather sizable bar tab (they had Pimm’s Cup on the drink menu; how could I resist?), we couldn’t leave American Harvest without having dinner.  Although we ordered from the bar menu, that didn’t mean the choices were any less tempting.  Gypsy opted for a lamb burger on a pretzel bun …

… and I went for the trout.  I’m a sucker for a good fish entrée. 

It’s a wonder that between the food and drink that we turned a profit.  But we did.  And I know Gypsy is looking forward to being a regular vendor at future events here.  

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