Smoke Testing in Wine Grapes at OSU Pt 3

Smoke Testing in Wine Grapes at OSU Pt 3

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. A lot of testing is going on to try an determine the scope of the smoke damage caused by September’s wildfires in northwest vineyards.

Researchers like Elizabeth Tomasino, Associate Professor of Enology at Oregon State University, have been collecting grape samples to see if and where the ‘smoke taint’ occurred …

TOMASINO … “We’re actually trying not to use that because it can be a little misleading. When people are talking about ‘smoke taint,’ and we sort of call it ‘extreme smoke exposure,’ that’s when you’re talking that it’s so extreme, you’ve had so much smoke exposure, that when you go in and taste your wines it’s, the description is sort of like an ash tray in your mouth, and that would be at extreme levels.”

But, Tomasino says the ‘ash tray’ taste depends on may factors …

TOMASINO … “It all depends on the concentration of those compounds. There’s natural levels in grapes and then you get some elevated levels by using some processes that use oak. And, then you can even go and it’s not going to effect wine that much, but it’s a those really extreme levels. And as I said, it’s really those vineyards that were right next to the fires that we’re getting really, really extreme levels, to the point where there really isn’t anything processing that can be done to reduce that.

Knowing the extent of the grape loss, Tomasino says won’t be immediate …

TOMASINO … “They’re just finishing up fermentation and we won’t really know until about six months or so. It does need a little bit of aging for all the bound compounds to sort of be released into their free form, and then sort of early next year we’ll start to have an idea.”

Not accustom to wildfires of this magnitude, Tomasino says this year will be a year of education as much as the vintage.

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