REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) – Through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Grape Industries Committee has opened applications for the 2022 Vineyard Expansion Assistance Program.

An incentive program funded by OGIC, the VEAP provides new and existing Ohio vineyards the opportunity to invest in and plant high-quality grapes onsite instead of purchasing from other states.

“Due to the small number of grapes produced in Ohio, many wineries, farmers’ markets and retailers are forced to purchase grapes of several different varieties from other states in order to meet production needs,” the Ohio Department of Agriculture wrote in a release. “The VEAP is designed to provide a more stable source of high-quality, high-value grapes grown in Ohio.”

Ohio is the sixth-largest wine producer in the country, with 370 licensed wine manufacturers across the state, the release said. There are 39% more vineyards in 2022 compared to 2016, and the OGIC told NBC4 previously that VEAP may in part have helped with that growth.

“It’s expensive to grow grapes, very hard work to grow grapes and land value is increasing across the state of Ohio,” said Executive Director of OGIC Christy Eckstein. “We’ve had polar vortexes, so we have winter and Mother Nature to deal with, the unknown. That took out some of our vineyards.”

VEAP funding will cover the cost of grapevines planted, with each grower able to apply for up to $1,500 per half-acre for a maximum of three acres at $9,000. Only Ohio growers may apply and planting must occur in spring 2023.

Applications can be requested by contacting Christy Eckstein by email, christy.eckstein@agri.ohio.gov.