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Brutal Winter Has Made For Disaster For Upstate Winemakers

Wine Bottles (file/credit: Clip Art)

Wine Bottles (file/credit: Clip Art)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The brutal winter has put a squeeze on the upstate wine industry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a disaster in 19 upstate New York counties where the severe winter has caused severe damage to vineyards.

U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the declaration issued Wednesday is intended to provide relief to grape growers and other farmers.

The declaration covers primary areas in Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Oswego and Yates counties. It also includes 14 contiguous counties: Allegany, Cortland, Erie, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins, Wayne and Wyoming.

The affected counties include the Finger Lakes region, where more than 200 wineries are located.

Farmers and growers will be eligible to apply for federal assistance to help them recover.

Some wineries said they lost 75 percent of their buds because of the arctic air. Farmers buried vines to protect them from freezing temperatures.

If the damage is bad enough, the cost of replacing the vines could be passed on to the consumer.

The full extent of the winter’s toll on New York’s $4.8 billion grape and wine industry was not known yet this week.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)