Plans for a new winery located at the old Diocese of Joliet property are currently underway. Sehring Property Holdings has obtained the building known as “The Castle” along with two other buildings near the property. The developers plan to restore the building to its original structure, which is a perfect location due to the underground tunnels that were used for beer storage many years ago.
The castle is located on Bridge Street in Joliet and was originally used for a brewery by Frederick Sehring, who built the house in 1892. Constructed with hand cut limestone from Joliet, the building was meant to mirror feudal German castles of the time. Since its completion in 1892, the building has been utilized by various groups, including a dormitory for St. Francis in 1947.
Approved by the Joliet Zoning Board, developers have begun the restoration process. Although the castle is still standing, renovations will be necessary. While working on the site, the original foundation of the brewery was discovered, along with a significant amount of limestone buried in the hill that the site is located on. “We have a lot of limestone. We didn’t realize that they buried a two-story building in the hill,” Phil Soto of Sehring Property Holdings told reporters.
Eleven Joliet residents had the pleasure of touring the site on March 18, exploring all the rooms in the house including the basement. Soto, the leader of the tour, also showed guests the future location that will be used for processing wine, which is currently a hill that is being excavated.
Candance Johnson, who is president of St. John’s Neighborhood Association and represents the neighborhood where the site is located, spoke to the city council about the developments saying the group is “very excited and thrilled” to be welcoming a new business to the area.
Construction for the winery has begun but officials from Sehring Property Holdings say the site will not be open to the public for a while. Due to the wine making process, Soto hopes to begin grape crushing this fall, which then “takes a year and a half to get the wine ready.”
In addition to grape distilling, the group also hopes to distill whiskey at the site.