Firelands Winery makes its home in a nondescript but easy-to-find building just a couple minutes from Sandusky's main strip of water parks, hotels, restaurants and retail stores. As Ohio's largest and oldest wine producer and distributor, Firelands handles five labels and 110 different varieties of wine. That means visitors will find a large selection available for tasting and an even bigger assembly of wines for sale by the bottle. (At $9.99, the Walleye White is our favorite, a medium dry sipper made from Riesling grapes.)
Samples of four wines will set you back just $5, and that price also includes a Firelands souvenir glass. For tastings with a newfangled twist, head upstairs to the new Osteria section, where you can test out the area's first “Winestation,” a self-serve pouring machine. Snag a table next to one of the fishbowl windows, and you’ll be able to observe the bottling process in action (Firelands puts out an impressive 12,000 bottles a day).
To take an even closer look at the winery operations, head over to the viewing gallery/museum hallway. Here, you can check out cool Firelands artifacts like original equipment and aerial photos of the vineyards on nearby North Bass Island. You'll also get an easily digestible lesson on local wine-making traditions. This winning combination of great selection and just the right amount of history makes Firelands a good place to launch any regional wine tour.