Louis Glunz Wines is a Fourth Generation, family-owned and operated fine wine importing distributor serving the Illinois market. Rooted in the integrity, experience and innovation of over a century of family business, our mission is to be the undisputed first choice in wine & spirits distribution in the Midwest. We strive to be the leader in relationship-based exceptional service, in-depth product knowledge and technology. Our portfolio represents a focus on many family owned, value driven, industry pillars & pioneers.
The Louis Glunz story begins in 1879, when Louis Glunz I arrived in Chicago from his native Wesphalia, Germany. Louis found that Chicago was a bustling port city struggling to recover from the Great Chicago Fire. With little more than the clothes he was wearing and a dream of starting his own business, Louis took a job as a deliveryman at Wacker & Birk, a Chicago brewery owned by prominent civic leader and businessman Charles H. Wacker. He worked hard, learned all he could about the brewery business, and saved his wages to begin his own company.
Louis became a favorite of the Wackers. They showed their gratitude in the form of a business loan. In 1888, Louis set up shop as a wine, beer, and spirits merchant at Wells and Division streets, where his grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue to do business today. Shortly after Louis Sr. opened his beer and wine business, he acquired a tavern next door and sold beer and sandwiches. Meanwhile, his retail business was growing. He was bottling his own beer, wines, cordials, and spirits and becoming a supplier to the wealthy leaders of the Chicago industry on the Gold Coast. Every day he delivered kegs of beer and baskets of wines and spirits to the German taverns along Lincoln Avenue. In the basement of the two stores, he bottled beer for the next day's orders and bottled, corked, and labeled wines to lay down in his cellars.
In 1893, his friend, Charlie Wacker, then a director of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, was instrumental in making Louis a bottler of Schlitz beer for the Exposition. Married to Elizabeth Mitterbacher, Louis and Elizabeth had three boys and three girls who would play roles in the Glunz story: Louis II, Bertha, Joe, Edwin, Cecelia, and Anna. A tradition was established in the Louis Glunz family that united each succeeding generation - by the age of 5 or 6, Louis' children were learning the business as he had - from the bottom up. Armed with the Schlitz distributorship and its reputation for fine beer, wines, and spirits, the company expanded, and the family continued to prosper. But then came Prohibition. Sacramental wines and medicinal products had become the mainstay of the business when Louis Glunz I died in 1931. He had guided the family and business most of the way through the less prosperous days of Prohibition. Now Louis II was in charge.
Louis II and his wife, Clare Stubing, raised five children: Louis III, Patricia, John, Barbara, and Joseph. At midnight on the day of the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Clare and Louis II went to the railway yard for the first delivery of beer barrels. It was bedlam at the station and chaos later on Wells Street as the sidewalk was stacked high with new barrels ready to be lowered into the long empty cellars under the Glunz store. Louis Glunz Inc., with its long relationship with Schlitz, became a prominent distributor of Schlitz on the North Side of Chicago. The bottling business began again and focused on wholesaling and, in particular, on beer distribution. The company continued bottling non-pasteurized draft Schlitz in half-gallon bottles at a new Hill and Franklin Streets facility. Despite beer rationing during World War II, the business continued to do well. After the War, Schlitz capitalized on its popularity with troops overseas and led the way into mass marketing beer.
Meanwhile, the third generation of the Glunz family pursued their educations while continuing to work in the business with their parents. The fourth-generation family members who worked in the business to subsidize their college tuition have carried on the tradition. Louis III started a chemical business Regis Chemical Co. in a warehouse the family owned across the street from the Wells St. store. Regis Chemical Co. continues to operate in Morton Grove, Illinois. In 1960, Louis III married Jean Madden, and they became the parents of six children. Today, Louis and several of his family run the business. After the second brother, John "Jack," graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1957; he married Patricia Haskins and began their family of seven children. He concentrated on the beer business; today, several of his family, including some of the fifth generation, work in and run Louis Glunz Beer, Inc. After attending John Carroll University in Cleveland, the third brother, Joseph, transformed his father's wine collection into one of the finest wine retail stores and than distributorships in the United States. Joseph married Helen Tuohy and together had ten children. Like the third generation, the 4th generation grew up working in the family business, learning it from the floor up. Today many of the Joe Glunz family work in and run Louis Glunz Wines, Inc. in Lincolnshire, IL.
In 1992, the three brothers, who had 23 children, split the company into three separate companies, each heading up their own company. Under the generations of leadership, Louis Glunz Wines has evolved into a mid-sized importer and distributor of some of the finest wines from around the world. With the fourth generation's involvement, the business has expanded throughout Illinois.