Smoke Testing in Wine Grapes at OSU Pt 1

Smoke Testing in Wine Grapes at OSU Pt 1

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. September’s wildfires have undoubtedly had an impact on Northwest wine grapes, but just how much is yet to be determined.

Elizabeth Tomasino, Associate Professor of Enology at Oregon State University, says because of the unusual scope of the fires, they were called into action to help assess the damage …

TOMASINO … “There are a number of private labs that normally run analysis of smoke compounds in wine, but all of the sudden everyone wanted samples all at once. So, the essentially couldn’t handle the surge capacity. So, Oregon State University opened up testing of smoke analysis compounds for the state of Oregon in this sort of emergency situation.”

But their analysis of the grapes, Tomasino says isn’t instantaneous …

TOMASINO … “If grapes are exposed to smoke, they can absorb some of the smoke compounds in the air. So, the things, the aroma compounds that smell, like smoke, can be absorbed into the grapes. And, unfortunately, you don’t know the extent of the absorption in the grape because they get bound to sugar compounds. So, these bound compounds, you can’t actually smell or taste them. And, then it’s during fermentation that they’re released into their free form where all of the sudden you can smell them again.”

Given the extent of the fires, Tomasino says it’s necessary work …

TOMASINO … “So, the analysis can really help winemakers make decisions about if their grapes have a problem, if they might need to change processing to deal with it. And, we’ve run a lot of samples across the state and numbers are elevated compared to years when there are non-smoke event years.”

Listen tomorrow for more on OSU’s study of the impact wildfire smoke has on wine production.

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