Ozan Vineyard to receive grantPublished 4:16pm Friday, February 3, 2012
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
CALERA – On Feb. 3, the USDA presented grants to recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico. Of the 298 recipients, Ozan Vineyard and Cellars in Calera was one of two Alabama producers to receive a grant.
“It’s a very massive number of projects that have been in the incubator for quite a while and are being shoved out the door,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “I’m excited about what these projects will do.”
Ozan Vineyard owner Burt Patrick, who has been growing grapes in the vineyard for more than 10 years, didn’t expect to receive the grant money.
“I had put it in the back of my mind and moved onto some other things,” Patrick said of the grant application process. “We’re in the process of expanding the winery. This is going to be helpful, most helpful.”
The vineyard will receive a Value-Added Producer Grant in the amount of $49,698. Patrick said the grant is a “matching grant,” which means the vineyard must spend the required amount, and the company will be reimbursed through the grant.
“It’s a value-added producer grant. It’s an agricultural grant for people that take your basic agricultural products and process it into a value added (product), such as wine,” Patrick said.
“(We turn) grapes into wine, and then the grant supports the marketing expenses of selling that wine,” he added. “Our plan calls for marketing the wine in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.”
For Ozan Vineyard, the grant only applies to grapes grown in Shelby County.
“It’s specifically for Shelby County Norton (grapes) that we grow in Shelby County,” he said. “If I bought fruit from Chilton County, it may be good wine, but couldn’t be part of the grant.”
To apply for the grant, Patrick had to develop a plan of how he would use the money.
“The grant is for fruit you grow on your property,” he said. “And then you have to prove you have enough fruit, basically create a plan and then you have to prove you can complete the plan. You have to have a product. It has to be an existing product, kind of shovel-ready so to speak, or in my case, bottle-ready.”