Heineman Winery holds a special place in the heart of Put-In-Bay, you won’t find anywhere quite like it in the world! This is the only winery on the island that manufactures its own wine with its own, locally grown and harvested grapes. It is also home to the largest geode in the world located in the Crystal Cave! A visit to Heineman’s Winery is an absolute must during your island vacation.
Heineman’s Winery History
The oldest winery on Put-In-Bay, Heineman’s was founded in 1888 by a German immigrant named Gustav Heineman. Gustav hailed from the wine region of Baden and he brought his winemaking skill to this highly sought-after area. With the mild effect Lake Erie has on the weather, the growing season is longer than on the mainland, mixed with ideal soil conditions, this was a match made in heaven.
In 1900 there were 16 other wineries operating on South Bass Island. However, they all met their demise during Prohibition, except for Heineman’s. When the Volstead Act was passed in 1919, the other wineries didn’t last long. Thanks to the unique property the winery sits on and some quick thinking from Gustav’s son Norman Heineman, the winery was able to survive the next 13 years. Norman began selling tickets to the Crystal Cave to show off the uniqueness of the world’s largest geode. Other features included the strontium sulfate, a bluish mineral called celestite, Celestine crystals, and of course, the geode itself.
Norman also made grape juice and ran a taxi service on the island. Along the way the crystals were also collected to make fireworks, increasing the cave’s overall size, that of which you see today.
The Heineman Wine Family
The 3rd, 4th. And 5th generation Heineman family continue to own and operate the winery to this day. They grow their own grapes, allowing them “vine to wine” quality control. The grapes native to the island are Labrusca and the two major varieties are Concord and Catawba. These are both used in the creation of the most popular wine, the Pink Catawba. You can take a drive down Catawba Avenue heading towards the South Bass Islands State Park and on your right, you will see a portion of the vineyards.
· Crystal Cave Champagne
· Island Chablis
· White Riesling
· Sweet Catawba
· Watersnake Noirot
The Heineman’s winery produces both wines made from single grapes known as Varietal and blends like Sauterne and Burgundy, names that denote their heritage. Best known for their sweet wines, they also produce a range of wine in various degrees of sweetness to satisfy everyone. Tours of the Heineman Winery are offered daily and conclude with a sample tasting of their fine wines. A gift shop is located on premises and you can order wine to be delivered to your local Put-in-Bay Home Rental or Hotel.
In the Heineman Winery Neighbood
There is plenty of nearby shopping after your tour of the Heineman Winery! The Crystal Cave Gift Shop is located on the same grounds and offers memorabilia and souvenirs commemorating the worlds largest underground geode located on site. Jessie’s Jewelry has long been a favorite of islanders who seek out her special artistic creations. The Shops at Compass Point near the Put-in-Bay Post Office & hardware Store are a cluster of unique must-see gift shops specializing in hard to find Put-in-Bay items and seasonal favorites. Near the Put-in-Bay Airport, Freshwater Remedies offers a variety of health-related items as well as a retreat-style spa.