This week’s freezing temperatures hit the sweet spot for the region’s vineyards

GENEVA, Ohio – The freezing temperatures seen and felt across Northeast Ohio are enough to keep most of us indoors and snuggling up with a blanket. But for vineyard owners, they are the perfect place for the perfect harvest.

This week, local wineries in Geauga and Ashtabula counties spent the early morning hours in the fields harvesting the grapes used to make icewine.

“It’s about getting cold and great freezes on these grapes and that’s what makes it unique,” said Nick Ferrante, owner of Geneva-based Ferrante Winery. “There are only five regions in the world that make ice wine.”

Ferrante and his employees harvested their harvest the previous weekend.

For Larry Laurello, owner of Laurello Vineyards, and his employees, harvest took place on Tuesday when temperatures hovered around 17 degrees — which they consider the sweet spot.

“We had 22 people. We harvested about eight tons of grapes in about four hours,” Laurello said.

Laurello teamed up with Ferrante, a direct competitor just down the road, to complete the job, using some of their equipment.
The couple said they have known each other for more than 20 years.

“When each of us needs something, we help each other,” Ferrante said.

Icewine is considered a dessert wine – unique in its own way.

“It doesn’t rival other wines, it’s a dessert wine that rivals a piece of chocolate cake,” Laurello said.

The two owners said that despite the reduced number of guests visiting their wineries, they are still doing well amid the ongoing pandemic.

“What we lost in shipping because people aren’t coming or for whatever reason, we got more shipping sales,” Laurello said.

Grapes harvested this week will be ready to eat by March, Ferrante said. This is when the annual ice wine tour begins. The 19th annual festival runs throughout March where participating wineries will have ice wine and appetizers to sample.

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