Heineman’s Winery makes some of the most delicious wine on South Bass Island. Located about a mile from downtown Put-in-Bay, Heineman’s features a charming wine garden, gift shop, and tours of both the winery and the Crystal Cave, which is the largest geode in the world.
Heineman’s Winery Island History
Founded in 1888, Heineman’s Winery is the oldest winery on the island. Gustav Heineman immigrated from the German wine region of Baden, bringing with him old-world techniques to this island ideal of winemaking.
The tempering effect from Lake Erie produces a longer growing season than the mainland. The late fall winds bring warmer air from the surrounding waters. The fertile soil is also loaded with nutrients, ideal for growing grapes. As a result, it couldn’t be a more perfect environment.
By 1900 there were 16 more wineries. The wine business was off to a roaring era at Put-in-Bay. However, they were unable to survive Prohibition. Gustav’s quick thinking grandson instantly adapted and sold tickets to the Crystal Cave, along with taxi wines and the production of unfermented wine juice.
Heineman’s is still family-owned today, with the third, fourth, and fifth-generation are always working to produce these spectacular wines.
The Wine at Heineman’s Winery
The local grapes of this region are Labrusca. Along with Concord and Catawba, the two major grape varieties, they produce delicious wine that is known for its sweetness. Their most famous wine is Pink Catawba. It is made directly from these varieties while the Labrusca is responsible for Ives, Delaware, and Niagara wines.
Heineman’s is also the only winery on the island to practice “vine to wine” quality control, which means they make wines directly from the grapes grown on their properties located here on South Bass Island.
The winery produces both wines made from single grapes known as Varietal and blends like Sauterne and Burgundy, names that denote their classical heritage.
Tastings are available in the wine garden along with tours. Open daily during the summer. This lovely spot includes glasses of Heineman’s award-winning wine served alongside cheese plates. Bottles of wine are available for purchase at the gift shop. Wines can be shipped year-round.
- Pink Catawba is a medium sweet wine with fruity notes
- Watersnake Noiret is the winner of the 2017 Great American Wine Competition
- White Riesling
- Crystal Cave Champagne is a medium-dry champagne
- Island Chablis
During bottling seasons, locals and visitors lend a hand. It is not unusual to see locals handpicking the grapes from their vines. This is truly an island institution. Come down to the Wine Garden at Heineman’s and forget your cares for a day. Their winery on Put-in-Bay is always relaxing, sophisticated, and features the best wine in the area.
Nearby Heineman’s Winery
The Crystal Cave was discovered while workers were trying to dig a well for the winery more than 40 feet down. The cave is the world’s largest geode, and it helped the Heineman Winery get through the prohibition. They gave tours, and this, along with selling grape juice, helped to keep them in business. Tours of the cave start at $8 per adult and $4 per kid between the ages of 6 and 11. Tours are offered seven days a week from 11 am-5 pm Monday through Saturday and 12 pm-5 pm on Sundays. Crystal Cave is a must-see if you stop by the winery!
After your tour, be sure to stroll through the Crystal Cave Gift Shop for souvenirs of your visit. Across the street from the Winery, you will find the Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center. This multi-faceted location offers a wide variety of Put-in-Bay Attractions in one area. The Antique Car Museum Started by founder Skip Duggan is a popular place and free! The kids can try their luck with some authentic Gemstone Mining, and the entire family can compete in the War Of 18 Holes Mini Golf.