Vine in abandoned Concord vineyard just starting veraison (ripening of the berries and color change)

Vine in abandoned Concord vineyard just starting veraison.

No Proof of Concord? Let’s take a taste!

PORTLAND, NEW YORK (9/2/2021) – One of the big burdens for some landowners applying for the Vineyard Improvement Program with an abandoned vineyard is finding proof that it is/was a Concord vineyard. All of us in grape country know that distinctive smell in the air when the Concords are ripening, and don’t even get us started on the delicious taste! Because they are so distinctive, this time of year we are able to come to prospective VIP vineyards and help prove that it was a Concord vineyard. If you are interested in getting financial assistance to help remove an abandoned vineyard please don’t delay! This window of opportunity only exists for a few weeks and then the grapes are gone again.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is heading into the fourth of five years of the Vineyard Improvement Program. If you have been thinking that this program could help you but keep putting it off, now is the time to check it out. Go to and click on the big purple Vineyard Improvement Program button. Applicants need not be grape growers, in fact many of the abandoned Concord vineyards around have probably been willed to family who has no interest in growing grapes, or the vineyards just were no longer profitable and fell into disrepair. These landowners are welcome and encouraged to apply. Proof of Concord will be required (which can be done now with the sniff and taste test) and the land must be replanted to an agricultural commodity. Replants have included field crops, cover crops, hay fields, vegetable plots, orchards, and vineyards – even Concord vineyards.

This is a reimbursement program that will issue one check at the completion of the project. Applicants can be reimbursed 50% of their costs up to $1,500 per acre for Concord vineyard removal, and 25% of their costs up to $1,500 per acre for replant. Eligible costs include labor, equipment use, custom hire, land clearing, trellis, plant material, tiling if needed. (Seed crops are not eligible for reimbursement.)

This program is provided by New York Ag and Markets and is funded by the Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement Program. It is available to the Southern Tier of New York which for this program includes the following counties: Chautauqua, Erie (NY), Niagara, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, and Tioga.

If you have questions please contact Kim Knappenberger (, Kevin Martin ( or Jennifer Phillips Russo (

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

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 Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.


Jennifer Russo
Team Leader, Viticulturalist
716-792-2800 ext 204

Last updated September 2, 2021