Tasting the Fruits of Firelands Winery’s Labor
On a recent trip to Sandusky, I stumbled across Firelands Winery as stormy weather postponed my outdoor plans. What started out as a way to kill time, quickly turned into one of my favorite parts of the weekend.
Running inside to escape the rain, I was immediately drawn to Firelands’ inviting space. Guests were not only bellied up to the tasting bar, they were also parked on the comfy couches and browsing through the space’s gift shop (packed with gadgets for vino lovers). And then there’s the wine selection – shelf after shelf of whites, reds and pinks – all produced locally under the Dover, Mantey, Lonz and Mon Ami lines.
Firelands’ staff isn’t shy about letting you taste their wines. They offer two different six-flight tastings daily, with both sweet and dry varieties depending on your preference. I had my eye on a few of the sweeter options, so I went with the list that included the winery’s famed ice wine. For just $3, my husband and I split the tasting and discovered a couple of choices we loved: the Mantey Vin Rose (a medium-dry pink wine) and Fifty-Fifty (a blend of Niagara and Concord wines).
Once we’d had our fill of tasting – and purchased a couple of bottles to take home – we headed upstairs for a self-guided tour. I especially loved the wine bottle chandeliers gracing the walkway between the museum and the on-site restaurant, which served a variety of sandwiches and cheeses to pair with the wines.
As we entered the museum, the site’s maps and photos allowed me to take a step back in Ohio’s wine-producing history. One of the state’s oldest wineries, Firelands has been around since 1880 and still harvests its grapes from Isle St. George, a tiny Lake Erie island measuring just over one square mile in size. The tour concluded with a peek through the viewing windows over the winery’s production area.
By the time the rain cleared up, I’d tasted six different wines, taken a (free) tour and bought two bottles of wine to take home – all for under $20. I was so pleased with the quality and the affordability at Firelands, I’ll definitely be back.
No matter where you are in the state, there’s a great winery near you (check out this map). Do you have a favorite Ohio winery to recommend?
Note: First and third images courtesy of Lake Erie Shores & Islands®