Grapes

A wildfire burned more than 175 thousand acres in southwest Oregon last year. The region’s wine industry felt the effects – even from a distance.

Brent Stone of King Estate winery says that grapes can absorb chemical compounds in smoke, which can give wine an unpleasant aroma.

That concern prompted a large California winery to cancel contracts with several growers after the fire.

Stone: “So the farmers didn’t have a lot of options. They had a lot of fruit on the vine, and it was ripe, and they were being told that it was being rejected.”

Oregon Solidarity wineStone’s winery, along with three others, united to help the growers. They tested grapes from each vineyard to see if the fruit was tainted. Most of it was not, so they used it to make a limited series of wines. They are now selling it under the label “Oregon Solidarity.”

Stone says he was glad to help vineyards get through a hard time. But he says as wildfires become more common, the industry needs a comprehensive plan for defining acceptable levels of smoke exposure and managing potentially tainted grapes.

Stone: “The problem, in our mind, is not going to go away. It seems like the wildfire season is going to be an annual event that we’re going to have to plan for.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Images credit: King Estate video

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