As part of our #WhySI campaign sharing why Southern Illinois is a great place to live, work, and do business, we spoke with Jenny Schroeder about why she chose Southern Illinois to pursue her dream of owning a winery and vineyard and her experience in moving to the region. Jenny and her husband Scott own Peachbarn Winery & Cafe, a winery within the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, located in Alto Pass, Illinois.
How did you choose Southern Illinois as a place to run your business?
I first came to Southern Illinois in my late teens to visit friends at Southern Illinois University and I instantly fell in love with the region. Following college, my friends and I started taking annual girls’ trips to the Shawnee Hill Wine Trail. With each trip, I fell more in love with the Southern Illinois people, experience, and geography.
After five years, we started alternating our trips every year between Michigan wineries and Southern Illinois wineries. However, the Michigan trips paled in comparison to the Southern Illinois trips. Even as a customer, I could feel the community support and mutualism among the wineries in the Shawnee Hill Wine Trail in Southern Illinois. During our last girls’ trip to Southern Illinois, a lightbulb went off and a dream was formed -- one day I wanted to own a vineyard and winery.
After overcoming a breast cancer diagnosis, I realized that I wanted to act on my dream, not one day, but as soon as possible. My husband and I started researching and we came upon a winery for sale, Hedman's, in Alto Pass, Illinois. We knew it was meant to be and took the leap of faith to pursue my dream by purchasing the winery and moving to Southern Illinois.
We are now proud owners of Peachbarn Winery & Cafe, serving award-winning wines from estate grown grapes, delicious farm-to-table fare sourced as much as possible from local farms, and hosting live local performers.
Why is Southern Illinois a great place to run a business?
I can’t imagine a better community for business. Scott and I have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from fellow wineries and businesses in the area and we’ve been welcomed with open arms. These businesses have established a symbiotic environment and are always willing to lend a hand.
I’ve also been impressed with the skillset and commitment of employees. Much of our hiring has been done through word of mouth and community recommendations which speaks to the level of community support we’ve received.
From a lifestyle perspective, we enjoy the laid back and welcoming atmosphere in Southern Illinois. You can’t beat it compared to city life! We’re looking forward to establishing roots here and running Peachbarn for many years to come.