A visit to the Crystal Cave and Heineman’s Winery is so uniquely Put-in-Bay it is not to be missed. This little island is full of natural wonders, none more so than the Crystal Cave.
The world’s largest geode can be found here. Made of crystals, the geodes are up to 3 feet in width! That is a very big crystal. This magical cave is almost otherworldly with walls covered in strontium sulfate, a bluish mineral called celestite.
Crystal Cave History
Heineman is Put-in-Bay’s oldest winery. Gustav Heineman immigrated from Germany and recognized that the unique ecosystem of the island would make perfect grapes for wine. Lake Erie has a tempering effect on the weather and helps produce ideal soil for growing.
He opened his doors in 1888 and by 1900 there were 16 more wineries. But it is the discovery of the Crystal Cave in 1897 that sealed the winery’s fate. Miners were digging a well when they came upon it. The Heineman family recognized it as a special feature of their property but it wasn’t til prohibition they realized how special.
Prohibition hit the other wineries hard and more of them closed their doors. Gustav’s son, Norman, an intrepid businessman, saw the potential of the cave. Along with unfermented grape juice, he started selling tickets to the cave. It was in this way the winery was able to withstand Prohibition.
A visit to the Crystal Cave is nicely complement with wine tastings at the Wine Garden. The Heineman Winery specializes in sweet wines but their selection is quite varied. You can purchase souvenirs from the gift shop as well as bottles to take home and give to friends.
This part of Put-in-Bay is a tad more relaxed than the downtown. Nearby neighbors include Perry’s Cave, a limestone cave with an underground lake and the Chocolate Museum and Cafe.