Eric White Honored with Winemaker of the Year Award
Eric White was honored with the Winemaker of the Year Award presented by the Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Alliance at their recent three-day annual conference held at Walker’s Bluff in Carbondale. More than 150 growers, vintners, and enthusiasts from Illinois gathered to learn new techniques from experts from around the United States.
White joins an impressive list of awardees, including his mother, Galena Cellars’ first winemaker, Christine Lawlor-White, who has taken this award home four times, spanning back to 2000 when the awards began.
White concluded his acceptance speech, “I would not be up here if it wasn’t for my mom (Lawlor-White) instilling her values, work ethic, hard-work and most importantly passion for wine in me. You have paved the footsteps and the way for not only myself and the third generation, but also for the Illinois wine industry. It is an honor to follow in your legacy.”
After graduating from Wahlert Catholic High School in 2006, White moved to California to pursue his degree in enology, the study of winemaking and graduated from Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo in 2010. During his studies, he interned at two wineries in the Napa Valley and Central Coast and upon graduation began working at Heitz Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley, where he was promoted to Associate Winemaker. White was hired as Director of Winemaking at BRAND Napa Valley where he worked for 2 years before being called on to move back to the Midwest. In 2018, after spending a total of 12 years in California gaining experience to apply to the Illinois wine industry, he found his way home to Galena, Illinois and has since taken over as President and Winemaker of Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery.
White is currently responsible for crafting more than 50 varieties and 15,000 cases of wine annually. Not only is his background in the science of winemaking, but also the artistry of blending grape varietals to make distinctive wines.
The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance, established in 1992, is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the viticulture and enology interests of Illinois through information exchange and cooperation among Illinois grape producers and vintners. The Illinois wine industry has exploded in recent years, growing from just 12 wineries in 1997 to more than 165 in 2020. Today the Illinois wine industry creates a direct economic impact of $5.7 billion annually. The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance predicts continued growth in the coming years as more visitors discover the genuine culture of Illinois Wine Country.