Smoke looms over the vineyard at 50th Parallel Winery in Lake Country //Sydney Morton photo

Smoke from wildfires could affect B.C. wine

Smoke taint could sour this years vintages if ash falls on grapes

The looming smoke has dropped a sepia-like curtain over most of B.C.

Summer activities have been halted, patio season cut short and now UBC Okanagan PhD student Matt Noestheden says it could affect wine.

“It’s a little too early to tell, the prime susceptibility for the grapes is just coming around for most varietals, depending on where the vineyard is in the Okanagan,” Noestheden said. “The smoke we have seen up to date is a concern but we don’t have a definitive way too find out if the smoke will hurt this years vintage.”

Related: Bachelorettes’ sashes cinched at Kelowna Wineries

Smoke taint can affect the wine depending on the susceptibility of the grapes to the smoke coming around. Red wine, or any wine where the skin is kept on during the wine making process is more likely to be left with a smoky or an ashy taste. The molecule in the grape skin called glyoxal absorbs the ash or heavy smoke that falls onto the grape berry.

The smoky skies will delay harvest since the vines are not receiving direct sunlight to ripen. Noestheden says some vintners are nervous and others embrace the smoky scent and taste in their wine, as a part of the Okanagan terroir.

Different wine making strategies including reverse osmosis, or blending previous vintages along with the smoke tainted ones will allow wineries to salvage their harvests. Noestheden says that techniques such as aging in concrete or stainless steel could potentially help the situation instead of using barrels that can add a charred smoke taste and exacerbate the process.

Related: Viva la garagiste, small Okanagan wineries thrive at festival

“The issue really comes in a strong smoke tasting wine where you end up getting a heavy ash flavour. A lot of people like a bit of smoke in their wine and a red that was aged in a strong oak barrel may taste a little smoky and add value but the ash is an off-putting point in wine,” Noestheden said.

Gordon Fitzpatrick, president of Fitzpatrick Wines is not concerned about smoke taint at his winery just yet. Previously, Fitzpatrick owned Cedar Creek Winery which burned in the 2003 Kelowna wildfires, so he knows what it is like to lose vintages of wine due to smoke taint.

Related: Vibrant Vines named the best winery in Canada

“Last year we had this smoke haze and the only impact it had was that it delayed the ripening a bit,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t anticipate any issues this year, but I always get nervous about saying anything definitely before the wildfires are over.”

The second hand smoke from B.C. and Washington State are not leaving ash on the grapes this year which leaves Fitzpatrick with an optimistic approach to this year’s harvest.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@sydneyrmorton
sydney.morton@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Boundary Showcase, Take a Seat exhibits call for submissions

The upcoming spring exhibits call for community involvement.

Celebrating Family Day at Wilgress Lake fishing derby

The annual event was attended by over 125 people.

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read