For 126 years, Heineman’s Winery has been owned and operated by the Heineman family on Put-in-Bay. In 1888 when Gustav Heineman founded the winery, there were 17 wineries on Put-in-Bay. Now there remains one functioning winery: Heineman’s. It is the oldest family owned and operated winery in Ohio.
During the time of prohibition, which was 1920-1933, most of the wineries on Put-in-Bay closed. Heineman’s Winery stayed open selling grape juice and offering tours of the many caves on Put-in-Bay with taxi service included. At that time there were three caves that the Heineman family managed: Crystal Cave (which is still functioning today), Mammoth Cave and Paradise Cave.
Right now there are four generations of Heinemans: Louie, Ed, Dustin and Eli. Louie, great-grandfather to Eli, is the seasoned wine maker at Heineman’s. His son, Ed, graduated from Ohio State in 1980 from the Department of Agriculture majoring in food technology with a degree in oenology, the science of winemaking. Dustin graduated in 2006 in a class of four from the Put-in-Bay school system. All three are involved in the functioning of the winery today. Eli, who is Dustin’s son, is a grape lover in training.
Taking a golf cart ride from the winery to the vineyard of Heineman’s grapes is something to see. The purple and blue dots on the green branches catch your eye and the smell is wonderful.
On the grounds of the winery is a tasting room which houses wooden walls made from wormy chestnut. Outside is a tasting garden which is blossoming with flowers and conversation as patrons sip their wine and juice.
When Ed started as winemaker, which was after college graduation in 1980, Heineman’s had ten different wines. Now, there are 25 different wines and that’s not counting the two grape juices they carry.
“Everything is made here by us,” said Dustin.
Tours of the winery and Crystal Cave are available for children 6-11 years of age for $3 and adults for $7. There are daily tours Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. though September. Sunday tours start at 12 p.m. Wine can be shipped all year round.
For more information on Heineman’s Winery visit heinemanswinery.com or call 419-285-2811. Heineman’s Winery is located at 978 Catawba Avenue, Put-in-Bay, on South Bass Island.