Sam Makler and Colette Andre fell in love with wine 13 years ago, when they visited Europe.
"I never had drank wine," said Sam, 73, of Edwardsville, a retired insurance, stock and real-estate broker. "I drank beer and whiskey."
Colette began making wine at home, using fruit juices imported from New Zealand, Australia and California. Sam built a wooden structure on their rural property, patterning it after French wineries.
"We learned how to make damn good wine before we even thought about opening a winery," Sam said.
The couple founded Springers Creek Winery in Edwardsville in 2007, naming it after a nearby creek. It's housed in a purple, circa-1920 storefront that used to be a corner grocery store, with additional space in an historic home next door.
"We're a small, boutique winery," said Colette, 56, a former X-ray technician who also is retired from the insurance business. "We sell about 1,000 gallons (of wine) per year. That's about 5,000 bottles."
The storefront still has the original tin ceiling and hardwood floors. It's filled with an eclectic mix of antiques, artwork, stained-glass windows and other conversation pieces, including Sam's hubcap collection. Rooms are lit by table lamps.
"We bought the back bar in Atlanta," Sam said. "My son and I built the front bar."
Outside, Colette's flowers and Sam's fountains decorate a stone-lined front patio with umbrella tables. A boardwalk leads to a shady back patio with twinkle lights and a fire pit, and a covered tiki bar with a fireplace.
Sam provides entertainment on demand. He's a singer and guitarist with a distinctive gray ponytail and wire-rimmed glasses.
"I've been playing since I was 6," he said.
Springers Creek offers a variety of dry, sweet and semi-sweet red and white wines ($15 to $24 a bottle or $5 to $7 by the glass), as well as bottled beer.
Lincoln Head is a red named for a bronze medallion mounted on the winery's front steps. There's also a Mother Road Red.
"We were inducted in the (Route 66 Association of Illinois) Hall of Fame," Colette said.
The couple have a small vineyard at home, but they plan to continue importing grapes for the business.
"I don't have time (or space) to grow the grapes," Colette said. "It's very difficult in this area. Everything wants to eat them."
Springers Creek is on a bike trail, so it's a popular stop for bicyclists. The home's front room and back patio can be rented for wedding receptions and other private parties.
Cheese and crackers are available for purchase at the winery.
"People can bring their own food," Colette said. "They can bring in picnics, order pizza, whatever."
At a glance
What: Springers Creek Winery
Where: 817 Hillsboro, Edwardsville
Seating: About 80 inside and 80 outside
Party space: Yes
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Thursdays, noon to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays in the summer (check website for winter hours)
Information: Call 307-5110 or visit www.springerscreekwinery.com or the Facebook page