Wine Country Grape Growers Fear Significant Damage From Wildfire Smoke

Posted: Sep 14, 2020

The smoke and ash from the wildfires seem to permeate every corner of the Bay Area but this is also home to one of the most renowned wine regions in the world and that’s presenting a tough choice for grape growers.

Oscar Renteria manages thousands of acres of grapes in Pope Valley in the northeast corner of Napa County including vineyards right at the edge of the LNU Complex Fire. Of the 270 acres he owns himself, at least half have been affected by smoke damage.

“That’s what I can predict right now,” Renteria said. “But I’ve got two more weeks to go to test and I’m not sure that I’m even going to pick some of mine. I may just take my losses and go home.”

It’s a dilemma facing a lot of Bay Area grape growers right now: whether or not to harvest at all. Smoke damage, called “taint,” can affect the taste and aroma of wine and the industry doesn’t want to do anything to degrade the region’s reputation for quality.

“We will not be making — much less releasing — wines that have any type of impact from smoke, I can promise you that,” said Michael Haney, executive director of the Sonoma County Vintners Association.

By John Ramos
September 12, 2020

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