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Harsh Ohio winter damages wine industry

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio winemakers will ask for federal aid to help them recover after the harsh winter that all but wiped out many varieties of grapes.

A winter damage survey report from Ohio State University viticultural researchers says the extreme subzero temperatures devastated the 2014 vintage of some varieties of wines and caused around $4 million in damage to wineries in the state.

The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1lMW8Af ) reported that the frigid temperatures caused a projected loss of 97 percent of the 2014 crop of grape varieties of European heritage that are most well-known to consumers, such as chardonnay, riesling, cabernet franc and pinot noir.

The crop loss will be about 57 percent to "hybrid" grapes that are slightly more tolerant of cold weather but not as well known to consumers, such as vidal blanc, chambourcin and traminette, the report said.

The OSU report was based on a survey of 62 grape producers in 35 counties. Some of those vineyards reported temperatures as low as 27 below zero, with an average lowest temperature recorded of 14 below.

Southwest Ohio wineries appear to have fared somewhat better than their counterparts in the northeastern part of the state, especially if a large portion of their vineyards consisted of hardier grape varieties. But they face a greatly reduced 2014 crop that may cause a shortage of some varieties of wines over the next couple of years.

Those who visit Ohio wineries this summer probably won't notice any negative impact, at least not on the tasting-room menu, the state wine producers association said. The fall 2013 vintage was unusually large, following a high-quality 2012 vintage.

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