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Berlin winery taking loss after wet growing season yields bad grapes

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Very few grapes came in and the ones that did were covered in disease

BERLIN TWP., Ohio (WYTV) – This year’s weather has been horrible for many local wineries. At Mastropietro Winery in Berlin Township, the effects of spring’s struggles are showing up at harvest time.

The front acre of Dan Mastropietro’s grape vineyard turned out just fine. The fruit bunches are hanging heavy under dark green leaves.

But that’s not the case for the rest of his fields.

“It’s just not a good year with all the moisture and everything,” he said.

Mastropietro’s fields were soaked.

The Mahoning Valley received more rain than any other grape-growing region in Ohio.

“The biggest problems from early-season rains tend to be downy mildew, powdery mildew and black rot,” said Dr. Maria Smith, with the Ohio State Ag Extension. “Once the berry is infected, you can’t go back and retroactively control.”

Growers can spray against these diseases but many vineyards, like Mastropietro’s, were too wet to treat.

Debonne Vineyards in Madison, Ohio and South River Vineyards in Geneva are expecting the latest harvest season in several years — the beginning of October. The grapes there also experienced some disease.

Disease is also an issue for Klingshirn Winery in Avon Lake, but harvest is only about a week behind schedule.

Firelands Winery in Sandusky didn’t see as much disease, but the wet spring resulted in fewer grapes than normal.

Many of the vines didn’t end up producing any grapes at all. The few grapes that did sprout from vines were too small and covered in disease.

Mastropietro will lose two-thirds of his harvest. He puts his loss at around $40,000. He’ll have to buy more grapes and juices to make his wine.

Luckily, he’s been saving for a rainy season.

“We don’t bottle anything for — ’til it’s at least a year old, some up to two years,” Mastropietro said. “We’ve had some really good years, nice yields, so we do have some extra in the tanks. Unless we get another bad year next year, we will be OK.”

Elsewhere in the state, farmers were able to get through the bitter winter and rainy spring but they are dealing with delays and some losses, too.

“What fruit we do have is going to be really good this year,” Smith said.

Mastropietro’s wish for next year is simple.

“Sunshine.”

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