SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The Illinois wine industry is growing, and a census of sorts will help vintners realize how much it has grown in the past five years.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin working with the Illinois Grape Growers’ and Vintners’ Association next year to conduct the survey, measuring the wine production in 2011.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports

David Ward, a statistician with the USDA Illinois Field Office, says 500 surveys will be mailed in January to all known vineyards and wineries in the state.

“To them, this is very important data, to see how the industry is growing, know what types of grapes are growing in the state, and then possibly help the Legislature understand the industry a little bit better,” Ward said.

Ward said grapes for the Illinois wine industry went from taking up 380 acres in the early 1990s to nearly 1,000 acres in 2007.

Vineyards and wineries are scattered throughout the state, from the Wisconsin state line to the southern tip. The greatest concentration is in Southern Illinois, on the wine trails around Murphysboro and Alto Pass.

In the greater Chicago area, wineries are few. They include the Easy Street Vineyard and Winery in Joliet, Vigneto del Bino in Antioch, and Rowschell Ridge in Crystal Lake.

Back in April, a rehabber said he hoped to turn the estate around the John Raber Mansion, at 5760 S. Lafayette Ave. near Washington Park, into a winery. But no news about that plan has surfaced since.

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