Third Time May Be the Charm for Tres Rojas Winery

Aug 7, 2019

The third time might just be the charm for Tres Rojas.

The Washington Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved Bob and Lisa Barry's plan to open a winery, vineyard and venue set on just more than 50 acres of farmland off Cruger Road on Wednesday. About eight of those acres would become a vineyard.

The Washington City Council annexed the land into city boundaries on Monday to allow it to connect to city utilities.

The cities of East Peoria and Peoria each previously rejected the Barry's proposal to open their winery there.

The couple currently grows grapes on just over an acre in rural Pekin, and they process their crop into wine in a small Morton warehouse.  The wine is sold in area stores, including Friar Tuck, HyVee and UFS.

Bob Barry said there's already a demand for Tres Rojas wine. Their beverages have won multiple awards, including gold medals at the Illinois State Fair.

"We're making really good wine. It's being recognized every place we've submitted it. And that alone has garnered a group of people who are out there. Right now, they're waiting for us to open the tasting room," Barry said. He mentioned the profit margin on wine is extremely high.

One neighbor told Bob Barry he was concerned Tres Rojas may turn into another popular destination like Mackinaw Valley Winery, potentially drawing hundreds of people to their idyllic corner of the country every weekend.

But Barry says the rural ambience is part of the selling point.

"We definitely don't want to be another Mackinaw," he said. "People will be coming to our winery for the wine, and not the concerts."

Barry said the venue would host smaller weddings and events for up to 90 guests, but will not hold large-scale concerts and parties that may disturb neighbors.

Surrounding row crop farmers expressed concerns about how their pesticides may affect the Barry's crops, and vice versa. Barry, a career biologist with the federal government, fielded the questions on how he might coordinate with his neighbors so they can minimize damage for each other.

The Washington City Council still has to approve the final proposal at its next meeting.