Galena Cellars in Geneva is a relaxing, wine-filled oasis nestled in the heart of Third Street. Wine lovers beware - you won't be able to leave without grabbing a few bottles or gifts to take home!
Ryan and I have been visiting Galena Cellars in Geneva for several years now. We typically choose a bottle to share (our go-to bottles are Eric the Red and General’s Reserve Red) and head to the patio to enjoy nice weather or listen to their live music feature. In cooler weather, we station ourselves at one of the barrel tables indoors and chat away.
Last summer, Ryan arranged for us to visit the Galena Cellars Vineyard located on North Ford Road in Galena. Since we visit the Geneva location often, he thought it would be fun for us to see where our wine comes from. We had a blast! For just $10 per person, we toured the vineyard, barrels, and bottling setup with our guide and sampled 6 wines of our choice. With over 40 wines on their tasting list, it can be hard to decide! Afterwards, we sipped on a glass of wine, strolled through the vines, and enjoyed the view from the tasting room’s expansive deck. I even got some attention from the vineyard’s resident pup! You can learn about the history of Galena Cellars and the Lawlor family here.
Luckily for those of us situated in the Fox Valley, their only tasting spot outside of Galena is located right on S Third Street in Geneva’s Dodson Place. After growing a large following across the Chicagoland area through their main location, the Lawlor family decided to open a store in the suburbs. They chose Geneva because it reminded them of Galena, and was overall a beautiful town!
Inside the store you’ll find chalkboard painted walls with framed menus, aisles of wine bins, floor-to-ceiling shelving full of merchandise, and a gorgeous, dark wood tasting bar. $6 will score you 6 tastes of your choice from their selection of dry white, dry red, semi-dry, sparkling, sweet, fruit, and dessert wines. You can also sign up for their Case Club Membership, which is a lifetime membership after a one-time fee of $25. Every time you buy a case you get a whopping 20% OFF, and it is good at all locations. Not ready for a whole case all at once? Sign up for their Wine Country Club and you’ll receive 3 bottles at 4 shipment times throughout the year.
The newly expanded patio is one of the best features (besides the wine, of course!) that this spot has to offer. Ellen Schlaman, the manager of the Geneva location, says that people typically do a tasting at the bar indoors, and then buy a bottle or a glass for outside. Want to nibble while you drink? The staff can prepare a picnic basket for you to take out on the patio, complete with gourmet cheese, sausage, crackers, chocolate, napkins, cutting boards, etc.! You don’t have to worry about bringing any utensils or food along with you, which is super convenient especially if you are popping in while shopping downtown.
Don’t want a whole basket? They have a selection of a la carte items in their large cooler. I’d recommend a gourmet cheese flight – uniquely packaged so that you only open what you want to taste. They are specially designed to pair with white wines or red wines, so you can take the guess work out of choosing the right cheese. If you enjoy chocolate with your red wine, they have a convenient “tasting” bar that is already divided into “nibble”, “bite”, or “chunk” options.
In addition, the patio is dog friendly for friendly dogs! Don’t worry about bringing a water bowl on those hot summer days – the staff usually has one out for visiting pups. Just be sure that your dog doesn’t like to sing along to the live music so that you are courteous to other guests. Visiting with your kids? Galena Cellars offers water, ice tea, and French lemonade as other beverages. The tasting room is also right next to a nearby dessert shop, so you can grab the little ones some ice cream before enjoying your glass of wine. See what they did there? Now you literally have no excuse as to why you can’t come enjoy some wine.
You definitely don’t want to miss the Summer Sips Music Series, which was made possible by Geneva’s outdoor music grant. On select Fridays and Sundays, you can listen to live acoustic guitarists on the patio. Combining great wine with live music is a for-sure way to get me to come by often!
Let’s talk about a whole other portion of Galena Cellars though – the gifts! This store is truly a wine lover’s dream. If you have a friend or family member that even remotely enjoys a good glass of vino, be sure to stop here for their next present! Here’s a few of my favorite items in the shop:
VitaJewel – Choose the large decanter for special occasions and display pieces, and the smaller decanter or wand is perfect for a girlfriend gift or summer outing. I was able to be the first to try this new product with Ellen in the store and it worked great!
Fondue Set – This small crock is available in dark or raspberry chocolate and is paired with 6 packages of 2 marshmallows. Best thing about it? If you don’t eat it all, you can let it cool and it will be shelf stable until your next use!
Wine Totes and Picnic Baskets – Cork is SO in! One of their best sellers is the cork tote that has a bladder inside you can fill with your own (Galena Cellars) wine. These are perfect to bring to outdoor events like Ravina!
Wedding Gifts – Opt for a barrel wine making kit with everything you need to make your own vino at home! It can be customized for a wedding, anniversary, or other special occasion. You can also customize a barrel to hold wedding cards, or the end of a barrel as a signature board for a wedding guestbook. Galena Cellars also carries a great selection of wedding-themed glassware and a classy line of pewter stoppers and decanters from England.
Accessories – Pick up a reliable corkscrew, a wine hook (perfect for outdoor chairs), or The Wand – a handy disposable wand that helps remove sulfite preservatives and histamines in your glass. You can opt for a pack of 3, 8, or 72 wands!
Beyond the wine and gifts, you can also experience Galena Cellars in Geneva through fun events and happenings. Did you know that they offer Ukulele class onsite once per month (typically the second Wednesday)? Ryan and I have stopped in for a bottle of wine during a class before, and it looks like a blast! While you can use a Ukulele for free during the class, they sell Kala Brand Ukuleles onsite, with prices ranging from $60 - $350 depending on what style you’re looking for. You may also notice the hula hoops hanging from the ceiling indoors – on a Sunday afternoon you might see the staff bring a few hoops out to the patio for a mini-competition and a few laughs. These hoops are made by a small company in Oregon and are available for purchase also!
Galena Cellars also participates in local events, such as the Swedish Days Festival in June and Festival of the Vine in September. November brings the Nouveau celebration, which carries over to Geneva from the main festival in Galena. This French Tradition is celebrated in Galena on the third Friday of November, honoring the end of the harvest. A local artist is chosen as the designer of the bottle label and poster each year. You can see a selection of posters hanging near the ceiling in the Geneva location.
Be sure to stop in, grab a bottle, and enjoy the patio! Say hi to Ellen, her staff, and tell them I sent you while you are there. Cheers!
477 S Third Street, Dodson Place, Geneva, IL 60134
Monday - Thursday: 10AM - 8PM
Friday - Saturday: 10AM - 9PM
Sunday: 10AM - 6PM