Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Autumn wildfire set up research on 'smoke taint' in wine

>

With the value of wine riding on a delicate balance of aroma and flavor, the impact of winegrapes' exposure to smoke from a wildfire could have significant economic consequences. Last fall's Northern California wildfires sent smoke wafting over an experimental vineyard in Napa Valley, giving scientists the opportunity to study the interplay of smoke and wine quality, reported Jeff Quackenbush in the North Bay Business Journal.

"The moment the smoke started, my phone started ringing off the hook," said Anita Olberholster, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture and enology specialist. “I quickly realized how thin the data is I need to base recommendations on.”

Aerial view of smoke from the 2017 fires in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The fires near the UC Davis vineyard provided the perfect experimental platform. Olberholster and her research team sprang into action to start a research project on the fly. Remaining grapes on smoke-exposed vines were picked, loads of commercially grown grapes deemed too questionable for commercial wineries were accepted. Over the past five months, small batches of wine were made from the grapes.

“They all have different levels of smoky character,” Olberholster said. “Some on the nose are actually quite pleasant and not smoky, but the aftertaste is the problem. All of them, even if in small amounts, had that ‘old smoke,' ‘ashtray,' ‘new smoke' aftertaste. It all depends on how sensitive you're going to be at it.”

The scientists are now looking for a process that will remove the smoky compounds, as little as possible of anything else.

Posted on Friday, April 6, 2018 at 8:34 AM
Tags: Anita Olberholster (2), smoke taint (2), wildfire (126), wine (33)
Focus Area Tags: Economic Development

No Comments Posted.

Leave a Reply

You are currently not signed in. If you have an account, then sign in now! Anonymously contributed messages may be delayed.




Security Code:
PBIFGX
:

 
E-mail
 
Webmaster Email: jewarnert@ucanr.edu