Heritage Harbor Ottawa Blog

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Adventures in Starved Rock Country – August Hill Winery

For those of you that know me, it won’t come as a surprise that this week we are going to take an adventure that involves wine:))

The August Hill Winery Tasting Room

The story of August Hill Winery in Utica is one of those stories that brings a smile to my face as I have been able to witness from afar as it has flourished from its beginning in 2000.  We watched how the owners, Mark & Terri Wenzel, took a piece of family farmland and launched their business with a grade school friend.  Then only to watch Mark eventually quitting his job as an engineer at Caterpillar to pursue and ‘grow’ his passion of winemaking.  Actually it was the Wenzels and their friends, Rick & Marie Mamoser, and myself that planned the first couple of Vintage Illinois Festivals at Starved Rock that is still enjoyed by thousands each Fall at Mathiessen State Park.

Though, we have watched and enjoyed the business for years, I continue to be amazed each time we step foot into their tasting room.   They continue to expand not only their wines but their customers events.  One in particular that has caught my attention (and I hope yours) is that they offer ‘Cave Tours’ at their vineyard.  The next one is scheduled from Sunday, September 1st during their ‘crush’ season.   Tickets include trolley ride to vineyards, tour, witness the crush, taste some wine paired with light appetizers.  There are two tours 12-2:30 and 1:30-4:00.  The cost is $50 per person.  I would love to try and get a private event for HHO….but still working on that….

In addition, they have started to offer some other great events that I think you will all enjoy like a Cooking Class on August 15th and the list goes on.  But one of the things that we truly enjoy is their relaxing back deck/patio which is a great place to bring out-of-town guests, friends and family to share a glass of wine(s) with some cheese & crackers.  Often they have live music playing and the atmosphere is shaded with a garden trellis, pleasant waterfalls and once again makes you feel like you have escaped Illinois and found a winery on the back roads of Sonoma!

August Hill has recently launched Illinois Sparkling Company, which offers independent craft sparkling wines.  Now remember Mark has an engineer background and became obsessed with Champagne, so when he learned that Illinois was a region primed to produce world-class sparkling wine grapes, he dove headfirst into sparkling experimentation. After years of research, trials, and some great advice from Champagne producers.  The goal is to show that sparkling wines do not need to be stuffy or only enjoyed on special occasions but can be used as a refreshing treat for any occasion.  May I recommend “Doll Face”!

Did I mention that you can also reach the winery by way of bike, just off the I&M Canal as well?  Don’t worry I don’t think DUI’s are enforced on bikes:))  If you bike there you will have earned a “wine slushy”! (the slushy mix can be purchased to make at home and impress your friends)

Most of you have friends that visit you at your home at Heritage Harbor and I find, just like all of you, they are looking for the flavors and feelings that a small town can bring to their families.  I find that sharing local products, such as August Hill or Illinois Sparkling wines, add that nice local flair.  They are also great for gifts, but you really need to enjoy their tasting room and patio.  Inside the tasting room you will find some unique gifts as well for you shoppers.

So now for the logistics…

Friday-Saturday: 10am – 8pm

Sunday: 11am – 5pm

Monday-Thursday: 10am – 5pm.

Their websites (including the option to receive their events and newsletters) are www.augusthillwinery.com and www.illinoissparklingco.com .

The tasting room is located in downtown Utica at 106 Mill Street.

A great topic of conversation when you are tasting is to have them provide you the history of the names of their wines, it is always fun to hear the creativity behind the artwork:))  Also learning about the ‘infused’ wines is a great tasting lesson!  If you look for the August Hill or Illinois Sparkling, you will start to notice they are served in not only local restaurants in Starved Rock Country but also at Navy Pier and many restaurants in the suburbs, but I won’t tell them all to you as you can go on the hunt for them, now that you know….

And shucks, if I wasn’t at work I would have a glass :))  Salute and have a great week in Starved Rock Country!

Taking stylish, small living to next level with Cottage’s at Heron’s Landing

With style, comfort and finances in mind, Illinois’ resort Heritage Harbor Ottawa is blazing new trails in waterfront cottage living with it Cottages at Heron’s Landing development.

It’s possible to live and vacation comfortably without an excess of empty space and high ceilings. Illinois’s premier waterfront resort Heritage Harbor Ottawa is proving that and more with its Cottage’s at Heron’s Landing development.

“It’s better, not bigger,” says Jane Winninger who owns a yellow, three-story cottage on the Illinois Riverfront in Heritage Harbor.

“It’s a mind shift in what people are used to. Lots of people think just because something is big, it’s better, but it may not be comfortable or easy-to-maintain. It may not have that homey feel or a relaxed front porch. It may not be an easy place to vacation and live. But here in our cottage, it’s our space and it’s designed perfectly for our needs.”

Winninger has taken pleasure in getting the design of her Heritage Harbor cottage just right.

“I can’t believe how warm and homey our cottage is starting to feel,” Winninger said while touring her cottage living room, standing near a large art piece emphasizing the phrase “gather.”

“Since being here, we’ve never had a need for more space because the size is perfect. It’s actually amazing how much space there is while maintaining the integrity of cottage living. Honestly, time spent here makes us more conscious, more peaceful. It’s definitely that ‘less is more’ philosophy.”

The Cottage’s at Heron’s Landing are just one of Heritage Harbor Ottawa’s latest real estate developments, but it’s the one that’s been getting the most Midwest buzz.

The cottages are waterfront Cape Cod-style retreats sitting on an enclave of the Illinois Waterway. Partnering with Homeway Homes on the project, Heritage Harbor is offering various cottage floor plans so everyone looking to settle in one of the cozy cottages can have it designed to perfection.

The vacation cottage movement has been gaining popularity, similar to the industry’s Not So Big House movement. Recent economic factors have been causing families and homeowners to struggle with vacation home upkeep costs, cleaning bills for those double-height ceilings and more. Not to mention, hundreds of thousands of McMansions are falling into foreclosure. It’s no surprise that people are looking to build and buy smaller – and find more value in their space.

The Cottages at Heron’s Landing feature three unique floor plans with prices starting in the mid-$100,000s. The Energy Star-rated home designs have been created to utilize sustainable and energy-efficient components. Also, the Cottages at Heron’s Landing offer a generous rental policy, allowing cottage owners to rent their cottage to resort guests if the owner desires.

“It doesn’t feel like you’re staying in a hotel,” Rich Bridges of Heritage Harbor says of renting one of the stylish cottages. “You kick off your shoes on the porch and you’re at your place. All of the comforts of home are there. Then, it’s just a short stroll to the river.”

For more information or to take a tour of the Cottages at Heron’s Landing, contact Tammy Barry of Heritage Harbor Ottawa at 815-433-5000.


Happy Holidays!!

harbormasterI trust everyone had a great Christmas and you are looking forward to the New Year’s Festivities!

With the 23rd of December being my birthday, this time of year is always bittersweet–another year older! Anyway, it is a good time to take notice of how fortunate we really are and share memories of the years gone by.

I am anticipating a wonderful 2013 and wish everyone a happy New Year.

Looking out over the harbor, it is partially iced over and the waterfowl are tucked in out of the wind -overcast and cold. It doesn’t look like much chance of rain or snow, but do we really need it!

There have already been a few Eagle sightings as they start to make their winter arrival. It is always great fun to watch them fish as it makes for great snapshots too. This year I will try new tactics to get some more photo shots.

Reminder —Dec 31st is the deadline to get your deposit in and save your slip #. Please contact us if you have any questions.

We will have special offers for “sign up a friend” at the boat show and an exciting new look to our booth, Heritage Harbor Ottawa #4056.

Please have a safe New Year’s and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Top 10 Ways to Experience Winter Fun in Illinois’ Starved Rock Country

Winter vacation hibernation isn’t a must in the Midwest; a common misconception. There’s still plenty to do and vacations to be had during the winter months – many of them can be found in Illinois’ Starved Rock Country along the picturesque Illinois River.

Sitting just 90 minutes from downtown Chicago, Starved Rock Country is a Midwest oasis with outdoor fun, exceptional dining and shopping, and a community chock full of unique, singular activities that can’t be found in the same mix, anywhere else.

The team at Heritage Harbor Ottawa-premier resort community and marina in Ottawa, Ill.-hosts guests and homeowners from all over the Chicagoland area and further at its waterfront resort.

“There’s a common misconception that northern Illinois shuts down during the winter and there’s no fun to be had,” says Tammy Barry of Heritage Harbor. “Nothing could be farther from the truth here in Starved Rock Country. The changing of the seasons, especially winter, opens up a whole new realm of places to explore. Talking to those who head to Heritage Harbor, winter is a favorite place around Ottawa, Ill.”

Click here to read the Heritage Harbor team’s
Top 10 Winter Fun Tips for Starved Rock Country.

Fall Colors

Have you booked your Fall Colors Experience yet?

Now is the prefect time to book your desired stay at the Cottages at Heron’s Landing.
Be one of the first to experience the Fall Colors as you wake up, on the banks of the Illinois River, and in the comfort
of a quaint, vacation cottage. To book your stay, contact Leticia at (815) 431-8236 or Leticiab@HeritageHarborOttawa.com today! Hurry to book you stay today, before the last leaf falls!

Facebook Caption Contest

This Week’s Winner

Each week, we will try to post a different picture and all Facebook users have the option to add a small caption underneath the photo. The person with the most “Likes” under their comment will have the photo and their caption posted in the Harbor Happenings newsletter. Stop by our Facebook page and take a look at all the comments. They are hilarious!

Congratulations, Cindy Clark, winner of our first Facebook Caption Contest this week with the most “Likes” for her comment:

“Seriously, you forgot something and you want me to go back?”
“Did you bring the sunblock and we are going to need extra bowls, it’s going to be hot!”

I think we can all relate to that comment!

Jr Fishing Tournament Recap

This past Saturday, nine HHO children and grandchildren braved the heat wave and enjoyed an afternoon of learning, food and fishing.

Congratulations to our winners:

  • Biggest Fish – Alexa Clancy, 26″ Carp
  • Smallest Fish – Liam Clancy, 4″ Sunfish
  • Most Fish – Liam Clancy, 8 Fish!
  • Youngest Fisher – Kelsey Mulenbruch, 3 years old

If you haven’t liked us on Facebook, here’s your chance! Like Heritage Harbor Ottawa on
then view the complete 2012 Jr. Fishing Tournament Photo Album.

From the Harbor Master

Please check for lost items in the Marina office lost and found. We have lots of pool items! A few other reminders:

  • Please do not just flip cigarette butts in the grass! Also, make sure butts are snuffed out!
  • Be sure the kids have shoes on; I helped some that were caught on the docks crying because of the heat.
  • The pool is crowded–large inflatable rafts are not allowed.
  • There is a lot more paddle sport activity in the harbor–please note it is the law to wear an appropriate PFD.
  • Our fuel supplier is no longer able to supply us with pure unleaded fuel. The last fill up had 9- 10% Ethanol in it. I am working to have ValvTect added or find an alternative solution. We do have Startron additive in stock that will curb any storage issues.
  • The Ethanol issue will not go away as the government has just passed allowing 15% Ethanol in the future.
  • The fuel is cheaper now $4.49 per gallon, but additive is recommended.

I will be out this week so have a great weekend and be safe. See you for the fishing derby!

ABC’s 190 North Show previews yet another reason to escape to Starved Rock Country…

ABC’s 190 North Show previews yet another reason to escape to Starved Rock Country…

Looking for a Chicago area hidden gem? In mid-July, look no further than Starved Rock Country in Ottawa, Ill. – the area will be featured on ABC-TV’s award-winning “190 North,” a program showcasing the Chicagoland area’s trendy lifestyles and travel.
ABC chose Ottawa and Starved Rock Country because it is an ideal locale for Chicagoans and those looking to leave behind the busy suburbs to escape for a getaway on one tank of gas.

The area will be featured in a segment with other one-tank summer getaways.
The “190 North” segment will air at 11 p.m. Sunday, July 8, on ABC and 11 p.m. Saturday, July 14. As part of the segment, resort community Heritage Harbor Ottawa will be featured – it was what drew the show’s producer to the area. Show producer, Samantha Zackowitz, has been to Starved Rock Country and vacationed in the area since
her fiance owns a home at Heritage Harbor Ottawa.

The “190 North” program is right on track with recent U.S. vacation trends. According to MSNBC, one trend that will thrive during summer 2012 is the one-tank getaway, also dubbed the “staycation.”

Allison Linn writes that roughly 24 percent of American workers are considering a staycation this year due to economic reasons and another 11 percent will definitely take one, according to a quarterly survey conducted by Principal Financial Group.
The increased popularity of staycations is due largely to high fuel prices and the rising cost of airfare. People want the same vacation feel, but to stay close to home because in the end, it’s better for their wallet.

In addition to featuring Heritage Harbor, the July “190 North” segment will also focus on various other hot spots of Starved Rock Country. Filmed in mid-June, local restaurants, such as Cajun Connection of Utica and Corner 230 of Ottawa will be highlighted. Viewers will also get to learn about Skydive Chicago and Ottawa’s historic downtown.

From the Harbor Master


Wow is it hot! Temps are to remain very warm through next week with almost no chance of rain during the daytime hours.

  • The water continues to be low —- BE CAREFUL!
  • The wing dam markers have shifted and are no longer on station. I have contacted the Coast Guard and hope they will be reset soon. If you are unfamiliar with the area simply avoid it and stay in the main channel.
  • With this dry weather and as always please be careful of fire hazards -cigarettes, cigars, candles etc.
  • The parking lot construction is underway and should be completed by Friday. It is twice the size and will help traffic flow greatly. The surface will temporarily be a coarse stone and may still be soft in places so please go slow. It will be finished off with a finer grade of stone if needed after it compacts.
  • We are also in the process of setting up the new play equipment for the marina district. The framework is going up nicely and is beginning to take shape, so as soon as we ‘can play’ I will let you know 🙂
  • The pool has been great this year -just remember NO GLASS containers in the pool area. Thanks.
  • Ottawa Fireworks are on Wednesday Night at dusk.
  • It will be an active weekend and week at the marina! Grab your coolers and sunscreen…Cool off at HHO!

Hope to see everyone out – let’s all have a safe holiday.

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