Randy and Renee Feather own Brixwood by Feather Hills and Feather Hill Winery in Makanda, Illinois
How do the Southern Illinois people, community, culture and resources contribute to your success in running a business here?
The natural resources and landscape here in the Shawnee Hills create an environment unlike anywhere else in Illinois. The rocky rolling hills, the luscious forest, and temperate climate allow for many different types of agriculture. In southern Illinois, we farm more than row crops. Here, farmers grow everything from grapes, apples, and peaches to more specialized crops like rice, hemp, and mushrooms. Bison, grass-fed Angus Cattle, and free-range chickens are just some of the livestock raised in the area. Brixwood by Feather Hills—which includes the Fork and Vine Restaurant—and our winery, Feather Hills, rely on southern Illinois' natural resources and its vast agricultural community to thrive. The abundance of these resources is, in large part, what has drawn people to this region for years, and these ties to the land have built a culture that is unique to Southern Illinois. We have a connection to the land and a love for our neighbors here that creates a sense of community that is truly special.
Why do you love running a business in Southern Illinois?
Opportunity. Southern Illinois is still an undiscovered gem in the heart of the Midwest, and we've barely scratched the surface of everything it has to offer. We have access to the offerings of a larger metropolitan area because of Southern Illinois University, and that's against the backdrop of the relaxing wilderness of the Shawnee Forest. It's also easy for people who don't live in Illinois to get here. We're less than a three-hour drive from St. Louis, Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee. And there's a direct train route from Chicago to Carbondale. With our beautiful lakes, hikes, rock climbing, and of course, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, it's hard not to love running a business here.
Why do you love living in Southern Illinois?
We love the serenity. A glass of wine while watching a beautiful sunset or seeing fireflies dance over the vineyard at night makes the stressors of the day go by the wayside. When you're here, you can unplug and leave all of the world's noise and worry behind. It's a return to talking with your neighbors, building lasting friendships, and connecting with nature.