MORTON — East Peoria's loss could be a business gain for Peoria Heights or Goodfield.
Or possibly both.
Tres Rojas Wines, which just won a state award for its strawberry wine, was denied a recommendation last month by the East Peoria zoning board to move and expand its wine-making business to a 20-acre parcel off of Bloomington Road. Area residents packed a hearing and helped convince the zoning board a winery was not a good fit near the residential area.
Owners now are considering locating to land in Tazewell County near Goodfield, or to an old warehouse in the Heights.
"We're making good wine," owner Bob Barry said Thursday. "Now we just need a good place to sell it."
The winery is pursuing three possible options: locating to a 20-acre parcel five miles south of the Interstate 74 Goodfield exit on a quiet country road about 20 minutes from Morton; to an unspecified warehouse building in Peoria Heights with tall ceilings and lots of windows; or, a combination of both locations.
Both sites would have room for private parties, outdoor seating and wine sales. With the third option, the winery would grow and process grapes in Goodfield and market and sell them in Peoria Heights.
"So the first option allows us to build exactly what we need in a scenic rural area," reads the winery's Facebook page. "The second gives us ample space with a cool warehouse vibe."
The purchase of the Goodfield land is contingent on approval of a special use for a winery by the Tazewell County planning board, Barry said.
"We've always been hopeful," Barry said. "Now the awareness of our situation has thrown other options in our direction that we will have to evaluate and determine the best way to move forward."
The winery's Roth's Countryside Strawberry Wine, made with homegrown Roth Farms strawberries, recently won the top award for wines from any appellation category from the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance. The winery also received a second gold medal and two silver medals for its other wines.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 696-3244 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.