The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 2, 2014

11th Annual Ice Wine Festival kicks off three-weekend run

Area wineries greeted visitors to the 11th Annual Ice Wine Festival Saturday afternoon kicking off a three-weekend event in western Ashtabula and eastern Lake counties.

“Real good today. The weather really has worked out well,” said Chalet Debonne Vice President Tony Debevc Jr.

He said five area wineries participate in the ice wine festival drawing people from all over northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The event will be held from noon to 5 p.m. the next two Saturdays.

Grand River Winery, Chalet Debonne, Laurello’s Ferrante and St. Joseph’s wineries all participate in the event.

Debevc said more than 700 people visited the winery on Saturday. “Since we’ve gone to the three weekends. It’s hard to (review the weekly counts compared to other years),” he said.

While area wineries are holding their collective breaths concerning how much damage may have been done to the vines due to the frigid winter, they are rejoicing an excellent year for ice wine.

“This is the most ice wine ever,” Debevc said.

Normally ice wine harvesting is done in January when the temperatures dip into the below zero realms, but the cold winter got things rolling in December of 2013.

“This year we started at 7 a.m. and were done by 5 p.m.,” he said of the December day that completed the harvest.

“We’ve seen over 650 people,” said Jan Getz, manager at Ferrante’s Winery in Austinburg Township. She said the winery will be highlighting butternut squash with their ice wine during the event.

“We get a lot of people from Warren, Erie and Cleveland way,” Getz said of the visitors to the Ice Wine Festival.

“It (the wine) is just great. I’m looking to see where they sell it right now,” said Bill Bauer of Sandusky.

Larry Laurello, of Laurello’s Winery in Austinburg Township, said the event went well at his establishment.

“It started a little slow,” he said, but the attendance picked up and more than 450 people stopped by the event.” Laurello said the first day attendance was up by about 100 people from last year.

Laurello said the second week normally has a much higher attendance rate.

The December crop of ice-wine grapes was significant, Laurello said. “We had a bumper crop,” he said

“We (normally) only make 200 gallons. This year we sold 600 gallons,” he said of the ice wine.

“We picked on Dec. 11 and 12 and we pressed out for two nights straight,” Laurello said. He said the Ice Wine Festival has grown a little bit each year.

“This is really good for the area. The goal is to start exporting to other states,” he said.

Laurello hopes area wineries will be able to make “world class” ice wine which will attract attention and tourism to the area.

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