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Most people do not think of Ohio as being known for wine, but the cool climate combined with rich, fertile soil produces wines that consistantly wins awards and challenges throughout the world. The Lake Erie Islands, located north of Sandusky and Port Clinton acts like an insulater, protecting vineyards from the harshest weather, therefore, producing excellent cool weather wines, such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Ice Wines. (See Ohio's Lake Erie Wineries for more info.)
If you have never tasted Ice Wine, it is worth a trip to Heineman's Winery on South Bass Island/Put-in-Bay to try this sweet, delicate desert brew. This family-owned winery dates back to 1888 and offers tastings and tours, which includes Crystal Cave, located directly below the winery. Not to worry if Ice Wine isn't your thing, Heineman's offers more than 20 other options. While you're on the island also check out the Put-in-Bay Winery at the beautiful and historic Doller House. Just a heads-up - while the Put-in-Bay Winery has some local wine, they also have a selection from outside Ohio, which still should be tasty.
You do not have to venture up to the islands to have great Ohio wine. There are over a dozen wineries throughout the Lake Erie Shores & Islands region. Perhaps, Firelands Winery in Sandusky is among the more well-know of these wineries. Firelands Winery is a favorite among local wine coinsures. That's because, according to the Fireland's Winery website, "consumers throughout the country are searching for high quality wines native to their region, and Firelands has responded by producing nationally acclaimed wines from locally grown grapes." In addition to superb wine, Firelands Winery has also added a dining area called The Osteria where you can enjoy some light fare while listening to live entertainment.
If a more hearty meal is desired then pay a visit to Mon Ami Historic Winery and Restaurant in Marblehead, Ohio. As the name "Mon Ami" implies, you'll feel more like a friend than a visitor. Enjoy some delicious cuisine with a glass of wine in the dining room or several samples in the seperate tasting room.
So get out there and discover the great tastes of the Shores and Islands Wine Trail!