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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run participants re-live part of Cariboo history

Mushers will be sworn in as official mail carriers Jan. 24 at 9 a.m. in downtown Quesnel

Forestry Ink: Developing a local market for biochar

Regular columnist Jim Hilton shares more information about biochar

Quesnel youth compete on the slopes

Quesnel athletes recently raced in the U16 Teck Open at Panorama Mountain Resort

Barlow Creek Volunteer Fire Department needs new fire truck to meet certification

The CRD is holding an Alternate Approval Process to approve using 10-year financing for the purchase

Quesnel Junior School architecs will be in town next week as design work moves ahead

CHP Architects is finalizing the schematic designs for the new junior school

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read