Working in a man’s world of winemaking is hard work, and Susan Sullivan Danenberger is doing it in style—yes, you’ll actually see her working in her vineyard wearing high heels! But Susan isn’t just a female winemaker with fashion sense, she is a single mom who has raised her kids, she is a survivor of breast cancer for the second time, and she is keeping her family legacy alive. Located just 15 minutes outside of Springfield, Illinois in New Berlin, the Danenberger Family Vineyards is a destination experience filled with great food, drink and history.
On March 12, 2006, a tornado ripped through New Berlin, destroying the Danenberger Family Farm. Susan started rebuilding the back half of the property. It has taken years to rebuild, one construction project at a time. So far, the Tasting Room, Wine Rocks Stage and Upper Terrace, Crate Lounge, Gazebo, West Terrace and Depot have been constructed.
Intimate nooks and party rooms, for indoor and outdoor experiences, are paired with fine wine. You can enjoy a sip, glass or bottle of wine with single or group tastings in one of the many lounge areas throughout the venue. Gather a group of friends together and experience a full course pairing dinner in the gazebo prepared by Chef Clayton Danenberger (Susan’s son). Or, relax by the fireplace while Chef Clayton creates a delightful crisp cheesy pizza baked in their wood burning pizza oven. If you are in the mood for live music, check out the bands and dates that will be playing at the Danenberger Family Vineyards. You’ll experience a sbeer, wine, mixed drinks and really friendly people.
What started as Susan’s hobby grew into award-winning wines and then a developed venue. Susan shares her mature tasting skills in her wine; chewing the cuttings and looking for flavors that she wants to enhance or downplay when developing her wines. This is where Susan could have power over her male counterparts; scientific studies have determined women have better sensory palates than men!
Being a woman who has survived breast cancer has given Susan another power—the power to give back. She raises money and awareness for breast cancer and other women’s issues. In February of 2019, you will find Susan modeling an Ana Ono bra for cancer patients in New York fashion week.
It takes a strong woman be a single mom, to compete in a man’s world, to rebuild after a tornado destroys your home and business, to survive two rounds of cancer, and to create award-winning wines and a venue that delights customers. Take a road trip and meet this amazing woman—and take a group of friends with you. Say hello to Susan for me.