FREDONIA, N.Y. — Crews at Double A Vineyards in Fredonia, Chautauqua County, are planting a new trial variety of grapes developed from Cornell University's grapevine breeding program in 2015.

"So, we're going to put four or five short rows in here to evaluate it," said Dennis Rak, owner of Double A Vineyards.

What You Need To Know

  •  A late April freeze killed many of the grapes across New York state

  •  Rep. Nick Langworthy introduced the GRAPE Act to strengthen the crop insurance program

  • Double A Vineyards in Fredonia gave Spectrum News 1 a tour of the damage

It's part of 450 acres of grapes and other fruit grown on this family farm since 1990.

"Probably four million plants a year, of grapes, raspberries, figs, elderberries, gooseberries and sell those across the country," said Rak.

A spring frost in April killed many of the shoots and buds, going from healthy vines with two or three clusters, to short vines with either one or none.

"It's always disappointing when you work hard to grow a crop," Rak said. "You lose that potential and you have to work the rest of the year and still maintain the vineyard knowing that the harvest is going to be very small."

This impacts his income, as well.

"If we've got a third of the crop, that's a third of the revenue," Rak said. "A third of the revenue doesn't cover the bills."

Rak does have crop insurance that he says will guarantee he'll be paid for 70% of the crop, based on a five-year average. 

Yet, gaps still exist. When it comes to lost revenue based on the pricing structure of what growers are being paid per ton, as compared to what insurance is paying out. 

"The challenges that you're facing here are serious," said Rep. Nick Langworthy, (R) 23rd Congressional District.

That's why Langworthy introduced, as part of the Farm Bill, the Grape Research and Protection Expansion (GRAPE) Act, offering comprehensive crop insurance to growers who suffer losses because of an increased number of freeze events.

"It's more and more of a danger to the bottom line," Langworthy said. "I'm deeply concerned. The way they're paid for their crops is a very complicated formula."

He recently spoke to growers and producers about the measure, designed to address gaps in the current system.

"This is one of the grape capitals of the country and it's very important that we get this relief," said Langworthy.

And it's important for growers like Rak.

"It's always a good feeling when people are trying to address issues that have been brought to their attention so hopefully we can move forward and develop a better program for everybody," said Rak.

Langworthy has also written and sponsored five other bills included in the final Farm Bill package, ranging from support for dairy farmers to rural job training and health care.