Smoke Testing in Wine Grapes at OSU Pt 2

Smoke Testing in Wine Grapes at OSU Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Trying to determine the extent of damage to wine caused by September’s wildfire smoke is not something that will happen overnight.

But, while smoke damage is a real concern, Oregon State University Associate Professor of Enology, Elizabeth Tomasino says smoke alone isn’t always a negative…

TOMASINO … “Low levels of smoke compounds aren’t a problem. We actually, naturally, there’s some wine processing using toasted oak barrels that naturally put a little of these into wine on purpose, but it’s when you start getting really extreme levels that it’s sort of considered very negative to quality.”

And, Tomasino says the grape damage depends on many variables …

TOMASINO … “And, we’ve found that the vineyards that are really close to where the actual burn site was. So, even if you might be quite far away from the burn site, but you got smoke, those grapes were not necessarily impacted. It’s the ones that were really close that had very extreme levels to their grapes.”

Tomasino says the type of grape also matters …

TOMASINO … “It also depends on the grape variety. We know not each grape variety absorbs compounds in the same way. We don’t know as much as we’d like about that, but we know that each is different. So, some varieties were impacted more than others.”

Tomasino says it’s not as simple as just going out and tasting the grapes …

TOMASINO … “Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able, because the compounds are bound at that point, you wouldn’t be able to taste anything. It would just taste like nice grapes and then it wouldn’t be until part way through fermentation you’d start to notice, oh, this smells quite smokey.”

Tune in tomorrow for more on the measure of smoke damage done to Oregon wine grapes.

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