Ohio holds many surprises. Yesterday I touched on a food item that has put one Ohio town on the map. Today, I’ll introduce you to a natural wonder that my family experienced a couple years ago. You can go too, but I’ll warn you, it requires you to sail upon Lake Erie by ferry, ride in a golf cart or fun train, and sample wine (if you’re into that). Are you ready to learn more?
Our adventure begins at the Miller Ferry Dock in Port Clinton where you can purchase tickets to board the ferry to South Bass Island, home of Put-in-Bay. Once you arrive on the island, you have two options. You can catch a bus heading downtown and from there board the Fun Train. The entertaining and educational tour offers on/off service at the most popular stops on the island. Or, you can choose to rent a golf cart and explore at your leisure.
If you choose option one, you’ll jump off the train at the Heineman Winery. If you choose the latter, you’ll drive yourself to the winery. The Heineman Winery is about a mile from Downtown Put-in-Bay.
Founded in 1888 by Gustav Heineman, a German immigrant, the winery has been producing wine and grape juice for five generations. The family produces more than 20 wines and two kinds of grape juice from wines grown on the island and in the surrounding Lake Erie Island region. Once you arrive at Heineman, you may purchase tickets for a winery and cave tour. Wine sampling is available while you wait.
Since it’s been a few years since I was there, so my memory is a little fuzzy- and no it’s not due to the partaking of wine. I don’t remember the tour as a long tour. We visited early in the season, so the winery was not bottling wine, but we were able to see the facility and hear about the wine making experience. After we had toured the winery, it was time to see what my family wanted a peek at, Crystal Cave.
While digging a well beneath his winery, Mr. Heineman discovered what is believed to be the world’s largest geode. Visitors get a close-up look at this marvel as you walk straight through Crystal Cave, observing geodes that range from the size of a golf ball to basketball size.
Crystals from the cave are on display in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington D.C.
This attraction is what would be considered a tourist trap by some but satisfied my family’s curiosity while fueling our love of all things fun and quirky.
You’ll find Heineman’s Winery, Home of the Crystal Cave, at 978 Catawba Avenue, Put-in-Bay. If you have questions, you may reach them at 419-285-2811. Visit their website for hours and admission costs.