Four generations keep Lincolnshire wine business thriving
Joe Glunz, Sr. (left to right), Joe Glunz, Jr., and Steven Glunz are third and fourth generation wine bottlers.
Updated: January 28, 2013 1:57AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — If you’ve bought a bottle of wine in the Chicagoland area, chances are, that bottle came from Glunz Wines’ warehouse in Lincolnshire.
Glunz Wines, a local distributor of some of the world’s finest wines, is a family business, now in its fourth generation. Today, Joe Glunz, Sr. and three of his sons run the warehouse.
“My grandfather started the business in 1888, when he came over (to Chicago) as a young immigrant from Germany,” Glunz said. “House of Glunz has been at the corner of Wells and Division (in Chicago) since 1888.”
Glunz said he and his sons now run the family’s wine distribution warehouse in Lincolnshire, and said it was the good business atmosphere and low taxes that lured the family business to the area.
“The taxes in Lake County are wonderful compared to Cook County,” Glunz said, laughing.
Glunz said his family doesn’t distribute just any old wine; they search out the finest wines from around the world.
“I’d say 50 percent of our wines are domestic and 50 percent are imports,” Glunz said. “We certainly look at the product line and if there is a particular need for that winery to be represented in our portfolio.”
While Glunz Wines caters to some of the finer wine enthusiasts, Glunz, Sr. said when the economy tanked a few years ago they had to rethink their strategy.
“People weren’t spending $30-$40 for a bottle of wine anymore, they were looking for something more in the $12 range,” Glunz, Sr. said.
His son Steven, who runs the operations portion of the warehouse, said they have some 1,600 different items of wine in-house.
“One winery can have from 5 to 30 wines,” Steven Glunz said. “One of the nicest, arguably finest, vineyards in California is Ridge Vineyards, and we carry the whole Ridge portfolio.”
Steven Glunz said there are some bottles of wine in the warehouse that carry a $600 price tag, and that some of the finest restaurants in Chicago buy it from them.
“For the most part, the finer wines are bought by higher-end restaurants in Chicago, but some are bought be retailers,” Steven Glunz said.
Steven Glunz said a fifth generation of Glunz wine bottlers are coming in in the ranks, now in high school and college.
“They’re not working here full time yet, but they’re getting there,” Glunz said.
The Glunz family also owns a winery in Grayslake.