Harsh winter to affect local vineyards

BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKBN) — The effects of this year’s long, cold winter are still being realized by many Ohio vineyard owners,who quickly learning their crops didn’t make, and some even lost their vines.

Growing new ones can be a five year process, so some are applying for federal help.

The past several months haven’t been easy for Dan Mastropietro and his winery in western Mahoning County.

“It’s just crazy. And it’s been a crazy winter. One of the worst we had,” said Mastropietro.

When the temperature dropped suddenly from 60 degrees to less than 10 below, he knew things weren’t going to be good for his crop of grapes.

“Nothing I could do. It’s like, okay, put your saddle on and we’re going to ride through this and see what happens,” said Mastropietro.

The recent cold wet rain may not be idea of perfect weather today, but Mastropietro said that after this winter, he’ll take just about anything but ice and snow.

He won’t know for sure until next week, but he figures the bitter cold took out about a quarter of his crop.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time. Last year, freezing temperatures over Memorial Day destroyed the entire crop; 12 tons of grapes.

He said he had to just move on.

“You buy more grapes. You just have to buy them all. Then you don’t have as good of control because it’s not the grapes you grew,” Mastropietro said.

Carolyn Stoffer and her husband traveled all the way from Cambridge to try the wine at Mastropietro’s vineyard.

“It tastes really really good,” commented Stoffer.

The thought of the grapes being brought in from somewhere else doesn’t bother Stoffer as long as she knows where they’re coming from.

“If I can read that on a bottle, I’ll probably feel pretty good about the wine,” said Stoffer.

While this winter did do a lot of damage at the vineyard, Mastropietro said they likely won’t be tapping into federal aid other grape growers in the state are applying for. He indicated that vineyards farther north were hit worse than him. Many lost their entire vines, not just this year’s crop.

“It’s all in God’s hands. You can’t control the weather,” said Mastropietro.

However, he said that doesn’t stop him from looking forward to a little sunshine.


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