1st Bottle

Sonoma Vineyards

For my first entry I’m focusing on fire in the vineyards. Many wine regions now have to deal with this issue and recently it’s become the number one question that I’ve been asked, “What does it do to the wine?”

The goal of Drink Up! is to enlighten and simplify complex issues for wine lovers. So here it goes.

Fire can damage the vines through 2 methods and the wine by 1. #1 Grapevines can actually burn up in the vineyard or the radiant heat from the fire can also cause damage to the plants. #2 Ash, soot and smoke from the fire landing on the vines.

#1 depending on the level of exposure the damaged vines can see a 100% recovery all the way to irrevocably damaged/killed. Vineyard management is then key to assess the damage and set up steps to save the vines wherever possible. There are 4 damage categories to help with this assessment and the recommended steps to follow.

#2 is more challenging depending on where the vine is during it’s life cycle. The smoke and ash introduce flavour compounds to the plants. If there are grapes still ripening then they are exposed to these compounds as well. It is important to remove ash from the plants but if fruit is on the vine then you can concentrate the smoke taint in the resulting wine if you are washing off the entire plant.

#3 The effect on the wine is a different story. Testing of the fruit after a smoke event is crucial. A sample can be checked in lab to search for smoke related compounds which will impact the wines flavours. As in the vineyard there are quite a few steps in the winery that you can take to mitigate the impact but unfortunately if the levels are high it can’t be removed.

Hopefully this answers the question, “What does it do to the wine?” and of course if you have other questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Until next week Drink Up!