Wineries may get help from federal government

PORTLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – This winter’s deep freeze could kill off a large portion of the local grape crop. Now Senator Charles Schumer is calling for help from the federal government.

Grape growers in Western New York are experiencing the worst damage to their crops in a decade. Senator Schumer visited 21 Brix Winery in Chautauqua County to hear firsthand about the impact. He is also pushing for federal relief in the form of grants and loans.

Sen. Schumer said, “I don’t want in April when we find out that we have enough damage to be declared a disaster to wait six months before we get the money. I want them to get ready now so that the minute we find the damage the money is ready to flow in the spring and summer.”

Winery owner and head wine maker Kris Kane estimates their crop damage is between 50 to 100 percent damage to the buds, depending on the variety, which could be very tough for the two-year old winery.

“We could not have any inventory and then not have any sales and that’s not only tough for myself but also my 14 employees because we’re going to have to cut back a little bit,” Kris said.

Wineries like 21 Brix will be assessing the bud damage throughout the spring and the more serious vine damage into the summer.

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