Wine lovers rejoice! October heat means good news for Ohio grape growers

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MADISON, Ohio– It is a wine maker’s dream come true.

Summertime heat on a sunny October day, resulting in sweet grapes on the vines.

“2019 is a year every farmer in Ohio is going to remember. It’s a year that a lot of the crops didn’t get planted, it’s a year we had an extreme wet spring and wet weather and the soils never dried out,” said Gene Sigel, Debonne Vineyards manager.

He agonized over the upcoming harvest for months, wondering if his grapes would be ripe enough.

“Anybody’s that’s been to a farm market in Ohio this summer realizes a lot of produce that didn’t come in as nice as it usually does, so it’s not ripe. And so for me at the end of the year, my whole major or value is whether we turn in a good ripe crop or not.”

On an 80-plus degree day in October, for farmers, the goal is to get out in the fields early, covering 160-acres, picking up more than 90-tons of grapes in two days.

From the fields, the grapes are then brought into the winery to get crushed in large tanks, where the temperature is controlled.

“This is Concord, which is used in a wine called River Rouge, which is a blend with Niagara, which is a green grape we just picked the other day. So these grapes are gonna be fermented on the skins, we probably would be selling this by next June,” said Beth Debevc, Debonne co-owner.

The process of harvesting can take anywhere between one to three months depending on weather conditions.

As far as the grapes that were harvested on Tuesday, they will be in bottles, store shelves and possibly in your home by 2020 or 2021. That’s thanks in part, this year, to Mother Nature.

“I just had to keep telling the people at the winery we gotta hold on, wait for that warm weather at the end of September to pull things together and it actually came like we planned,” Sigel said.

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