The Gorazds have been to wineries around the world, where Angela has long enjoyed soaking up the relaxing atmosphere. Now she and her husband, Steve, own Hidden Lake Winery & Banquet Center in Aviston, and she can soak up all the relaxation she wants.
“It just calms me. It’s like a respite from the world,” she said.
The nurse practitioner is also excited to be showcasing locally grown and produced foods, part of the Gorazds’ push for better quality.
Steve and Angela started the buying process of the Aviston winery about a year ago, she said, navigating a long process of licenses and USDA requirements before taking full ownership in early June. They kept many key staff, including event coordinator Ashley Deiters, wine maker Corey Kunkle, cook Justin Foppe. And they hired Wes Ronan, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh, as chef.
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“These kids are the backbone of this place,” Angela said.
On the last weekend in June, Hidden Lake unveiled its new menu, created by Wes. Angela’s favorite dishes include the baby spinach and strawberry salad in a housemade vinaigrette for $7.95.
Ashley likes the heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad made with cheese from Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville for $8.95.
Ashley is really familiar with the buffet menu offered for events like weddings — of which they already have 185 booked for the year — and loves the honey pecan pork tenderloin.
“They sear each piece of tenderloin on each side,” she said, instead of cooking the whole tenderloin.
Steve and the youngest Gorazd son, Matt, planted 1,900 grapes this spring, in hopes of being able to crush and stem their own grapes into wines in four years. Matt is studying agriculture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and expects to work at the winery after graduation. His older brother, Stephan, works at Boeing, where Steve retired from.
Until those grapes are ready, Zuckerbach Vineyard of Albers is among the vendors supplying the fruit for the nine or so red and white wines.
“In Southern Illinois the sweeter wines sell well, white does better than red,” Steve said. They sold about 8,000 gallons of wine last year, he said, and hope to ramp up production to do even more.
One of their big sellers is Hazy Dazy, described on the menu as “a Cayuga wine with a touch of lemon flavoring. Is it lemonade or wine?” The sweet white wine is $4 a glass or $14.95 a bottle. For now, Hidden Lake’s wine lineup is 11 red and white wines ranging from dry to sweet.
“It’s all about the wine for us ... we just enjoy the business capacity of it,” Steve said.
Hidden Lake Winery & Banquet Center
- Where: 10580 Wellen Road, Aviston, Ill.; 618-228-9111; www.hiddenlakewinery.com
- What: The 92-acre facility includes a winery, rental cabins, banquet spaces, and outdoor spaces for weddings and other events.
- Hours: Closed Mondays. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Kitchen hours are Thursday through Sunday.
- Foods: Salads, shared plates including a meat and cheese selection for $13.95 and house-made red pepper hummus for $10.95. Sandwiches and burgers include Steve Gorazd’s favorite, the BBQ Brisket, for $14.95, and the Blackened Chicken for $12.95. Flatbread pizzas include the HLW of carmelized onions, sweet peppers, roasted chicken, mozzarella and feta cheese and alfredo for $13.95. Desserts like the blueberry cheesecake pops and peaches and cream, are house-made and $4.95.