Tour of Illinois Flower and Wine Operations

Marie Flanagan
Source: ACES News

Brightflower Nursery in Stockton and Famous Fossil Winery in Cedarville are the destinations of a tour sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The tour is scheduled for Friday, August 13, and will begin at Brightflower Nursery at 9 a.m.

Jeanie McKewan and Michael Staver started Brightflower Nursery in 2006. “After working for a variety of business entrepreneurs on Chicago’s North Shore, I decided that it was time to start my own,” said McKewan, who is president of Brightflower. “I have always been involved in growing and gardening and have a master’s degree in plant pathology.”

Brightflower Nursery is certified organic. McKewan said the choice to become certified was partly about nurturing the land, but also as a marketing niche. “We are small with very little capital so it is difficult to build the business. We’re far from some of our market, so delivery costs are high,” she said.
Visitors will tour the greenhouse and hoop house production, the field production of cut flowers, the bouquet-building facility, and the cooler for flowers. For more about the nursery, visit
Mid-morning the tour will caravan to Famous Fossil Winery in Cedarville, which is owned and operated by Ken and Pam Rosmann. They began by planting the vineyard in 2004 and today have over 2,000 grapevines. The winery was opened in 2008.

The vineyard is certified biodynamic. “Our wines are made with the minimum of handling and preservatives,” said Pam Rosmann. “We do not use any genetically modified yeasts to ferment the wine, and we use evaporated cane juice for our sweet wines.”

The Rosmanns have also incorporated green technology in their structures. “Our building was built with maximum insulation in the walls, roof and windows,” Rosmann said. “We use a heat exchanger, and a high-velocity heating and cooling system with on-demand hot water. Our woodwork, tasting bar, and display cabinets were grown, milled and built using local resources. All of our appliances are energy star and we use as many recycled products as we can find. We serve local foods as much as we can for our private parties and in our cafĂ©.”

Guests on the tour will visit the tasting room, the vineyard, and the winery operation, as well as the fossils that were discovered when the vineyard was being planted. Lunch will be served at the winery, and the tour will conclude at 2 p.m.

For more about the winery, visit

“The University of Illinois Extension in northwestern Illinois has been active in supporting local foods efforts and providing training for small farms for the past five years,” said Margaret Larson, county director at the Stephenson and Winnebago County Extension unit. “As part of these ongoing efforts and initiatives, we are pleased to partner with the U of I small farms program and the sustainable agriculture tours to provide area residents with the chance to gain more insight into the local businesses that contribute to the state’s economy.”