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

Influx of cross-border visitors to Peace Arch Park sparks concern COVID-19 could spike

Police, parks officials say patrols, education and signage have all been increased

North Delta crime beat, week of May 17

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

COLUMN: For real leadership amid crisis, look west of Scott Road

Delta council, under direction of Mayor George Harvie, defines leadership during pandemic

UPDATE: Funding announced for pair of North Delta salmon conservation projects

Grants for Cougar Creek-related works by Burns Bog Conservation Society, Cougar Creek Streamkeepers

Delta playgrounds, basketball hoops, reopening June 1

Skate and bike parks in the city were reopened last week

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read