When Your Pinot Has ‘Smokey’ Notes…

Jun 1, 2021

A recent legal squabble in wine country is giving ‘smoke tainted’ grapes a lot of attention.

Langtry Farms LLC is suing the owners of Torick Farms LLC, a grape-growing company, for delivering grapes that were allegedly free of ‘smoke taint’ despite being harvested in the thick of last fall’s wildfires.

But not so fast… The vintner claims the grapes were damaged and ultimately ruined nearly two dozen oak tanks and barrels.

Why this matters: Wildfires are becoming the norm for California’s North Coast wine industry. This year’s fire season is already expected to begin early with the region’s super dry status.

Last year alone, wildfires caused a $3.7 billion loss in the wholesale value of wine in the U.S., where 95% of wine grapes grown are in California, Oregon, and Washington.

But there is hope. With nearly two decades of battling smoke taint, Australia is working on a magic bullet that could cork the dreaded problem.

How it works: A woven carbon-activated hood is placed over grape clusters. The hoods allow ventilation but trap any smoke particles. Early trials showed the grapes had 97% protection from smoke taint. Talk about a next-level aerator.

What lies ahead: Between Australia’s game-changing research and a potential $8 million USDA grant to research smoke taint further, wine connoisseurs and grape growers should see some light at the end of the smoke-filled tunnel.