GENEVA, Ohio — The frigid temperatures seen and felt all across Northeast Ohio are enough to make most of us stay inside and cuddle up with a blanket. But for vineyard owners, they're the sweet spot for a perfect harvest.
This week local wineries in Geauga and Ashtabula counties spent the early morning hours in the fields harvesting grapes used to make ice wine.
"It’s all about getting cold and excellent freezes these grapes and that’s what makes it unique," said Nick Ferrante, owner of Ferrante Winery located in Geneva. "There's only like five areas in the world that make ice wine."
Ferrante and his employees harvested their crop over the previous weekend.
For Larry Laurello, owner of Laurello Vineyards, and his employees, the harvesting took place Tuesday when temperatures were hovering around 17 degrees - which is what they consider the sweet spot.
"We had 22 people. We picked 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 pair said they have known each other for more than 20 years.
"When each of us need something we help each other out," Ferrante said.
Ice wine is considered a dessert wine - unique in its own way.
"It doesn’t compete with other wines it’s it’s a dessert wine that competes against a piece of chocolate cake," Laurello said.
Both owners said despite having fewer guests visit their wineries, they're still doing well amid the ongoing pandemic.
"What we lost in drop-off because people not coming or for whatever reason, we got more shipping sales," said Laurello.
The grapes harvested this week will be ready for consumption by March, Ferrante said. That's when the annual Ice Wine Tour kicks off. The 19th annual festival runs through the month of March where participating wineries will have ice wine and appetizers to sample.
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