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Dreams for the future of Lonz Winery

Alex Green • Jul 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM


Millions will be used to revive the old Lonz Winery property.

How the money will be used is yet to be determined.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials met with dozens of local residents during an open house Tuesday at the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Visitors Center in Port Clinton.

"A lot of bright people attended today with good ideas," said Matt Eiselstein, spokesman for ODNR Division of Ohio State Parks.

Many of them left suggestions on a small slip of paper detailing how they would like to see the Middle Bass Island property get used.

Some were more grand than others. 

Ideas for restaurants, camping areas, and new wineries were shared.

Others said they would like to see part of the property turned into a museum of the winery and wine making on the islands.

"We've launched our input phase," Eiselstein said. "We've invested $6 million and now we want to hear possible private partnerships."

A portion of that input raised concerns about alcohol. One man suggested a new winery with a kids area, and a bar area.

"I don't want it to be just another bar," one person wrote.

Eiselstein said alcohol is not compatible with ODNR's mission and he said the property will be much more than "just another bar."

"We're going to be flexible," he said.

Eiselstein said they should have a better idea of how they will renovate the property by the end of the year.

The $6 million, chiseled out from the state's two-year budget, is expected to:

• Renovate support work on the main winery building, including initial structural repairs.

• Remove asbestos and other hazardous materials.

• Refurbish the house near Lonz Winery, once belonging to George Lonz, the winery's founder.

• Pave the way to create some use of the legendary building.

The winery's terrace collapsed in 2000, destroying the building’s structural integrity. The horrific incident killed one person and injured up to 100 others. A short time later, the state purchased the property for $6.75 million. Since then, the property's remained empty.

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