Article Contributed by
Cornell Cooperative Extension

As a part of the Vineyard Improvement Program proposed at the Concord Grape Summit in April 2018, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, through theLake Erie Regional Grape Program, invites applications from owners of vineyard operations who are interested in removing unwanted Concord vineyards in order to replant grape varieties or other agricultural crops.

New York State has pledged to invest more than $1.35 million to help Concord grape growers renovate vineyards, plant new vines or diversify vineyard operations.  The Concord grape industry has always been an integral part of the economy, in both the Lake Erie and Finger Lakes regions, by providing quality grapes for processing into juice, jams, jellies and sweet wines.  Grape production is an important foundation of the economy in Chautauqua County and the Concord industry is the economic backbone of the towns and villages in the Lake Erie region. This program aims to strengthen the grape industry by encouraging the elimination of abandoned Concord vineyards which are a reservoir of disease and insect pests, and establishing healthy agricultural crops, be it Concords, other grape varieties, or another agricultural commodity.

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program (LERGP) will be the point of contact for those interested in participating.  Staff from LERGP will visit those vineyards proposed for the program and will be able to assist growers with developing a business plan and budget that are required for the application.  In addition, LERGP staff will provide information to growers to help them to decide the best plan moving forward.

This program is open to vineyard operations in the Southern Tier Region of New York State which includes: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Erie, Niagara, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins and Tioga counties.

Interested parties can visit lergp.cce.cornell.edu for more details and to begin the application process.  If approved, the state will reimburse the grower up to $1,500 per vineyard acre, not to exceed $50,000 per applicant.  Applications are currently being accepted and will continue to be accepted until October 2022.

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus Counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch’s), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket.  The LERGP extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt. For more information on LERGP, call (716) 792–2800 or visit our website at lergp.cce.cornell.edu

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is one of many programs offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County (CCE-Chautauqua). CCE-Chautauqua is a community based educational organization, affiliated with Cornell University, Chautauqua County Government, the NYS SUNY system, and the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, call (716) 664–9502 or visit our website at www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua.  Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.