When you think of wine country you often think of Napa Valley in California or Tuscany in Italy. But what if I were to tell you that some of the best wineries are in the Midwest? Believe it or not, the Great Lakes region provides a great climate for growing grapes. Add a bit of Midwest charm and you have yourself some wineries that are very much worth visiting.
1. Oliver Winery — Bloomington, Indiana
The Oliver has two great things going for it: The wine is amazing and the property is gorgeous. Located not far from a major highway and just outside of Bloomington, Indiana, Oliver Winery was founded in the early 1970s by a professor at Indiana University. The property is surrounded by well-maintained gardens, stone paths, a large pond, and plenty of grassy spots to sip and enjoy wine. That is, of course, if you make it out of the tasting room. Oliver Winery has a large selection of wines that they make on site that will please any palate. Their Traminette wine is one of my favorites.
The next winery is a real gem…literally.
2. Heineman’s — Put-In-Bay, Ohio
Heineman’s is a very unusual winery for a variety of reasons. First of all, Heineman’s is located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie and they actually grow their grapes right on the island. Second, they are Ohio’s oldest winery, having just celebrated 128 years. But the part that makes Heineman’s really unique is the fact that they winery is built on top of a giant gem. Purely by accident, “Crystal Cave,” as it is called, was discovered while drilling for water. This is the world’s largest geode, so big you can take a walking tour of it. They also have pretty good wine!
Next: Read about a winery that has staff with hooves.
3. The Winery at Wolf Creek — Akron, Ohio
The Winery at Wolf Creek has excellent wine, but that isn’t the only reason they make this list. One of the of the most unique features of Wolf Creek is their goats. Yes, that is right, goats. The Winery at Wolf Creek sits on top of a wooded hill that overlooks a pond and in their outdoor area you will find a pasture of goats. You can drink wine under a shady tree and look out over the water, all while goats are grazing around you. They even have goat-themed events. Just the other week was the “Goat Derby.”
Next: Discover a winery with some “buzz.”
4. Algomah Acres — Greenland, Michigan
As if the Upper Peninsula of Michigan wasn’t beautiful enough, Algomah Acres is a very unusual winery located there. If fact, they refer to themselves as a “micro-meadery.” Algomah Acres specializes in bees and making mead. While purists do not consider mead as wine, it is basically the same concept, only with honey. Not only is the “wine” unique, but the location is as well. The Algomah Acres store and tasting is located in an old church. With an attached art studio and located not far from the Ottawa National Forest, there are many reasons to visit this unique winery.
Finally: The old family farm … with a modern twist.
5. McEachran Homestead Winery — Rockford, Illinois
Located about an hour’s drive from Chicago, McEachran Homestead is a unique piece of agricultural history. The property has been owned and farmed by the same family for over 150 years and is officially recognized by the state of Illinois as a Sesquicentennial Farm. On the property are multiple meticulously restored buildings from the 1800s. The main barn has been turned into a modern, yet rustic event center. You can tour the farm and vineyard on a wagon ride pulled by an antique tractor. Finally, if you get tired of drinking plain wine from a glass, you can try one of McEachrans’ homemade wine slushies.
Wineries are a dime a dozen. However, the Midwest has provided a unique setting for many great ones. The climate from the Great Lakes allows for wineries in the Midwest to prosper and produce some pretty darn good wine. Hopefully, you will have the opportunity to visit a few of these wineries.
Any wineries I missed? Comment below to tell me!