Exploring the Charms of Old Oaks Winery in the Quad Cities

Winelover lane at Old Oaks Winery- featured image

You don’t have to wait for warm weather to go to a winery. Old Oak Winery is a beautiful spot on 400 acres of rolling hills all year long. We just moved here, so we don’t know much about the wine region. Self-described as the Napa Valley winery of the Midwest, the winery prides itself on an array of wines blended with grapes from their own vineyard as well as from Napa Valley. Actually, I had no idea they even had a vibrant wine region here in Illinois. With that said, it turned out to be a great place to learn about Midwest wine and grab something good to eat as well.

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The History Old Oaks Winery

Quad Cities winery

The owners, Chris Larsen, his son, along with a cousin, hand planted 3,000 wines over 3 acres back in 2014. Wine production is a slow crop. It takes several years for a worthwhile yield. As such, the winery has only been open for about a year and a half.

The atmosphere and surroundings of Old Oaks Winery have swiftly established it as a prominent wedding venue in less than two short years. Interestingly, the first vines were planted in the broken asphalt of the old parking lot, proving that nature will always find a way.

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The establishment’s deep roots in the Quad Cities community become evident the moment you walk in and see several groups of people of all ages enjoying the facilities. I can’t wait to return to enjoy the summer concerts they have when the weather is warmer. Old Oaks Winery not only embraces its history but also has exciting plans to grow and expand its wine production. As you explore the winery, you’ll find that each sip is not just a taste of wine but a sip of the rich narrative that has unfolded in a remarkably brief span of time.

Tasting Room Experience

The family-owned winery’s tasting room sits in a renovated old building that had previously a steak house as well as several other businesses. After extensive renovations, the tasting room decor is a mix of rustic and modern elements. In addition, it has a large event hall and outdoor seating for private parties and weddings. They also have live music on the large patio when weather permits.

The 3 acres in Milan, Illinois are not the only vineyards Old Oaks bottles grapes from. They also purchase grapes from Napa Valley producers, hence their self-description of the Napa Valley of the Midwest. Having visiting the Napa Valley of the Napa Valley, lol, I can say you will enjoy the wine at a much more reasonable price. There are several wine regions around the country, like the Finger Lakes in my home state of New York, where novice wine overs can feel at home.

Tasting Options and Guided Tours

We enjoyed a wine tasting that included all seven wines for $10 which was compted (free) due to Steven’s military service. During our tasting we were given a brief tour of the vineyards and the outdoor wedding venue. The location is far from the road and has a view if the surrounding rolling hills above a small creek.

The varierals common to midwest are generally peppery according to Chris The Old Oak Winery serves seven wines– 3 white, 1 rose, and 3 reds. The most popular is the Family Blend with hints of citrus and honey. He also mentioned they may produce more wines in the future including an ice wine. The midwest gets cold enough to harvest grapes after the freeze, thus producing a much sweeter, very expensive dessert wine referred to ice wine.

The best seller at Old Oaks is a delicious blend called the Family Blend. And if you aren’t a wine lover, you aren’t left out of the fun at Old Oak. The winery also has a separate bar for beer and cocktails.

Culinary Pairings

The winery offers various food options, including wood-fired pizza, charcuterie, cheese trays, and sandwiches. We chose the buffalo dip and a pickled crab tray with crackers. Chris mentioned they’ll introduce food trucks occasionally for a refreshing culinary expechange of pace. The staff, without prompting, reheated our buffalo dip during our vineyard tour.

Check out the Old Oaks Winery website for upcoming special events, food truck options, and musical guests.


Simply put, Old Oak Winery isn’t just a place to taste Midwest wines. The winery and the owners are an integral part of the Quad Cities community. Chris Sr is a dentist and Chris Jr is a teacher on Rock Island. You can’t get anymore connected to the community than that. With vines planted in an old parking lot and a cozy tasting room, it’s a place full of stories. The tasty wines, beautiful surroundings, and future plans make it a spot you shouldn’t miss. Old Oaks covers you whether you love wine or just want a relaxing place to hang out.

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your knowledge about Midwest wines and generously covering the wine tasting fee. Feeling appreciated is always a nice touch. We include free comps in our tips to the staff. That’s our way of paying it forward. Cheers to kindness and good vibes!

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