The Vineyard Assistance Program aims to enhance local grape production

Cleveland, Ohio – Ohio vineyards depend on Mother Nature, but the statewide assistance program aims to provide a little help to statewide grape growers.

The Vineyard Expansion Assistance Program, established to promote the creation, expansion, or rehabilitation of new vineyards in Ohio, is available.

A vineyard can apply for assistance to replace non-bearing vines or to grow new vines. VEAP allows wineries and vineyards to invest in growing high-quality, high-value grapes so they don’t have to rely on buying it from other states, according to the Ohio Grape Industries Commission.

The incentive program was created and funded by the OGIC, which falls under the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Due to the small number of grapes produced in Ohio, many wineries, farmers markets, and retailers purchase multiple varieties from other states to meet production needs.

Not only does the program provide a boost to the vineyards, but it also helps preserve agriculture in Ohio, said Donella Winchell of The Ohio Wine Producers Association.

“The authenticity of the industry depends on the fruit grown in the soil from which the wine is produced,” said Winchell, who said the program is modeled on one in Missouri that promotes “fruit in the ground.”

“It’s primarily designed for small-scale production, but some of the larger wineries have benefited from (VEAP) either by adding them to the vineyards or introducing some new varietals,” she said.

The program also has a residual macro effect.

“Once you plant a compound or housing project in an area where grapes grow, you won’t be able to get it back through viticulture,” she said. “It fuels the industry’s authenticity because we grow grapes and make wine from those in the dirt of Ohio, and secondly, it preserves areas that are relatively unique to cultivation rather than housing development.”

The biggest wineries like Ferrante Winery In Geneva they apply, but he also encourages the younger ones as well.

Ohio is the sixth largest wine producer in the country, with approximately 1,200 acres of vineyards producing and selling 1.2 million gallons, or 500,000 boxes, of wine annually. Ohio has 370 licensed winemakers, providing more than 8,000 full-time jobs to residents, according to the OGIC.

Each farmer can apply for up to $1,500 per half acre for a maximum of three acres, or $9,000. Planting should take place in Spring 2023. OGIC should receive applications by Friday, November 4th. For more details, contact Christy Eckstein at

Related Coverage: Concord grapes are in season: Here are 3 major growers in Cleveland to choose your own

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I’m on cleveland.comThe Life and Culture team covers food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, This is a guide on Bill Wills from WTAM-1100 and I usually talk about food and drink at 8:20 am on a Thursday. Twitter: @ mbona30.

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