Smoke looms over the vineyard at 50th Parallel Winery in Lake Country //Sydney Morton photo

Smoke looming in Okanagan could affect wine

Smoke taint could sour this years vintages if ash falls on grapes

The smoke has dropped a sepia curtain over the Okanagan, leaving many to wonder what will happen with the valley’s many agricultural offerings.

“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,” UBC Okanagan PhD student Matt Noestheden said about how smoke could affect wine. “The smoke we have seen up to date is a concern but we don’t have a definitive way to find out if the smoke will hurt this year’s vintage.”

Related: Bachelorettes’ sashes cinched at Kelowna Wineries

Smoke taint can effect the wine depending on the susceptibility of the grapes. 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 winemaking 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.

“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 when it burned in the 2003 Kelowna wildfires, and has lost vintages of wine in the past 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 issue 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.

Other fruit growers are also optimistic.

Pindar Dhaliwal, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, said that in some ways the smoke has been beneficial for valley orchards, especially the apples now ripening.

“It did protect the apples from any sunburn. The less intense sunlight didn’t hurt in that sense,” said Dhaliwal. “We had about 10 to 11 days of smoky weather, that kept the heat down from the predicted 40 C weather, so that helped out in that sense.”

Likewise, he said the less intense sunlight hasn’t had much of an effect on the fruit, except to slow down ripening.

The lack of cooler weather at night, as the blanket of smoke keeps the hot weather in, does have an effect on apples.

“The apples need cooler weather at night to trigger that redness,” said Dhaliwal, explaining they would like to see temperatures dipping down into the 10 to 15 C range overnight.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@sydneyrmorton
sydney.morton@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Open houses regarding transit between Penticton and Kelowna

The meetings will be held in Summerland, Princeton, Penticton, Peachland and Osoyoos on Dec. 4 and 5

Your guide to winter light ups around the Okanagan

From Vernon to Summerland, with a stop in Kelowna, we’ve found some activities for you to enjoy

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

Kelowna Rockets aim to start win streak in return to home ice

The Rockets are coming off a 6 game road trip, and face the Regina Pats Wednesday night

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read