Wine Glass and cheese

Rocky Waters History

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History

Welcome to Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery offers visitors a taste of Napa Valley in one of the most scenic regions of the Midwest. We are located in the rolling countryside of Jo Daviess County Illinois overlooking the village of Hanover with expansive views of the Mississippi River Valley.

Rocky Waters is a boutique winery dedicated to the pursuit of wines made from hardy yet delicious grapes. All of our wines are made from our 25-acre vineyard that are planted and produce red varietals such as red Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, and St. Croix along with white varietals of Lacrosse and St. Pepin.

We invite you to visit our winery, gift shop, tasting room, and vineyard. Each season brings gorgeous views from our welcoming winery and enticing deck built on the bluff overlooking the vineyard and lake. Our visitors find Rocky Waters to be a very relaxing getaway to spend an afternoon or evening. If you enjoy a scenic drive, we suggest you try the route from Galena south to Hanover on Blackjack Road. Take your time and enjoy the magnificent scenery! Drive safely and watch out for deer and farm equipment on the route.

Area natives Jared & Phyllis Spahn purchased 112 acres of land just outside Hanover, Illinois in 1994 and planted a vine nursery with 3,600 grape cuttings in 1996. We had visited wineries and vineyards in California and those trips inspired us to create our own in Northwestern Illinois, where the natural beauty rivals and may even exceed that of Napa Valley.

The youngest of our five children, Kyle, quickly joined us on the land, building a cabin for his own family, and he soon joined us as a driving force and integral member of the team, from tending to the vineyards and surrounding land, to harvesting the grapes, making the wine, bottling it and marketing it.

Our grandson Andrew Smith, who now has a doctorate in physical therapy, won a contest among the grandchildren to name the property. He came up with Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery based upon the spring fed, rock bottom creeks and streams that run through it and feed into our eight-acre lake that is nearly 80 feet deep.

Rocky Waters has been recognized year after year as one of the best places to visit in the Midwest and Illinois by Midwest Living magazine. As a family—and a vineyard--with deep roots in the area we are proud to have contributed to the many wonderful and unique attractions in the Mississippi River bluffs. 

Jared Spahn is a native of nearby Dubuque, Iowa, and a graduate of its Loras College. He and Phyllis--whose love of the land and incredible work ethic was cultivated on her family’s farm in Worthington, Iowa--lived near Peoria, Illinois for more than 30 years before moving back to this area to pursue their “retirement” dreams of growing grapes and making wine.

Jared’s career as a computer-systems consultant supported the development of the vineyard and winery and his college degrees in biology and chemistry led to our success in creating excellent wines that have won more than 40 medals, including 32 in international competition with more than 900 wineries.

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