The oldest, continuously family-owned enterprise in Chicago is not a bar, corporation or even a political machine, but rather a wine shop. Founded in 1888 by Louis Glunz, the House of Glunz has served as a wine wholesaler, beer distributor, tavern before Prohibition, and a wine shop today. Following the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, Glunz was the first to bottle and distribute Schlitz, making spin-off Louis Glunz Beer the country's oldest beer distributor. In the beginning, Glunz sold cask wine & spirits to those picking up their orders via horse-drawn carriage. On their 75th anniversary in 1963, Glunz opened a wine museum adjacent to the shop that now serves as a tasting room every Saturday from 2-6pm. In the late '70s, House of Glunz was the first in town to promote Californian wines as rivals to their French counterparts—after all, California did save the global wine industry from phylloxera in the late 19th century... There were hard times however: House of Glunz barely survived Prohibition (served soft drinks a la Berghoff) and two decades of urban decay in the '70s-'80s. Today, customers are still buzzed in and the mother & son duo of Barbara Glunz-Donovan and Christopher Donovan keep the family tradition alive with their handpicked selection and unsurpassed knowledge of wine. The extended Glunz family opened a fortified small-batch Glunz Family Winery & Cellars in Grayslake in 1992 and a German bierstube, Glunz Bavarian Haus, in North Center in 2003.
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