Travel: Wine down in Ohio: Cheers to this trail along Lake Erie’s shore

This article appears in Oct. 24 Weekly Travel page.

Traveling along Ohio’s Lake Erie shore towns offers visitors plenty of cheer. Those who seek a bit of spirit are following a new tour on the Lake Erie Shores & Islands trail — the Cheers Trail — with 18 wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Fall is a great time to hit this trail, and you don’t even need hiking boots. Getting started is as easy as making a stop at one of the Lake Erie Shores & Islands welcome centers, or get information and a map at shoresandislands.com/plan/trails. Obtain a brochure at one of the trail locations and present it at each stop to receive a sticker. Once five locations have been visited, trail followers will receive a gift.

The Lake Erie region is well-known for its grape and wine production. It is said here, “if you have a view of the lake from the vineyard, the grapes will be good.” The warmth of the lake from the summer months is trapped in the ground, which helps extend the growing season. The longer the grapes stay on the vines, the sweeter they are.

The trail is unique not only because it is along the lake, but because it incorporates the islands of the lake. Put-In-Bay and Kelleys Island are both known for restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries and fun times in the water and on land.

At Kelleys Island Brewery, visitors enjoy food and handcrafted beer pairings. Kelley’s Island Wine Co. specializes in handcrafted wines, a restaurant and two acres of family fun and games. It has been a staple on the island for 35 years. Crooked Tree Vineyard is the new kid on the block, with a three-acre working vineyard also located on the island.

At Put-In-Bay Winery, wine seekers can enjoy a guided tasting tour of the Valentine Doller mansion and get a taste of life as it was on the island in the 1800s. Or, just sit and enjoy the breathtaking views of the waterfront. Put-In-Bay is also known for Heineman Winery and Crystal Cave. Enjoy a glass of wine in the wine garden and tour the cave — the world’s largest geode. Put-In-Bay Brewery and Distillery has spirits — including their own rum and vodka — brews and good food.

Back on the mainland, visitors can enjoy a glass of wine at Rocky Point Winery in the historic Marblehead Schoolhouse and close to the historic Marblehead Lighthouse.

There are many options on the mainland, including the only ciderhouse in the area, Redhead. It is popular in the fall months as it grows, presses and ferments on site. It is located at Burnham Orchards in Berlin Heights, known for its fall festivities.

In Sandusky is one of the oldest wineries, Firelands. This and Heineman’s at Put-In-Bay are the only two that offer production tours and tasting rooms. Firelands offers light fare, tours and home winemaking supplies. Also in Sandusky is the Bait House Brewery, a great place for a perch sandwich and a cold local beer.

At Twin Oast Brewing in Port Clinton they are all about making unique flavors, which come from the 60-acre farm on which they are located.

From Avon Lake in the east, traveling west through Sandusky to Port Clinton, these Cheers Trail wineries, distilleries and breweries are all different and offer a variety of items.

And it isn’t the only trail in the lake area. Visitors can also enjoy the Put-In-Bay Foodie Trail and the Thrills Trail — more of a scavenger hunt or “bucket list” of adventures including ziplining, a helicopter ride, parasailing and riding a 205-foot-tall, 74 mph roller coaster. All the information is available at shoresandislands.com, including hours, dates of operations and places to stay. Be aware that many of the island wineries, distilleries and breweries are closed during winter. Ferries for people and cars are available through Miller Ferries. Schedule, cost and locations are at millerferry.com.

Published at Tue, 05 Nov 2019 12:02:00 +0000

Source: Travel: Wine down in Ohio: Cheers to this trail along Lake Erie’s shore.

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