Fires not a big problem for B.C.’s vineyards

Dear Wine Ladies,

What effect, if any have the fires in British Columbia had on the vineyards?

Dear Wine Ladies,

What effect, if any have the fires in British Columbia had on the vineyards?

How will they affect the wines and can anything be done about it?

— Will, Wnnipeg

Hi Will,

The fires have not presented a problem for the vineyards as of yet, with the exception of one winery having to evacuate. As long as the fires remain under control, B.C.’s vineyards should be fine.

In terms of how these fires might affect the vines if they were to spread, there is the possibility that the smoke may affect the aroma and flavour of the wine, commonly referred to as “smoke taint.”

We contacted Jackson-Triggs, Okanagan winemaker Derek Kontkanen, for his take on the situation. “The smoke was early on in the season and the berries were hard as green peas, which make the uptake of smoke non-existent. The critical time for smoke taint pick up would be from veraison onward. We have just started veraison and the skies are clear and sunny.”

Veraison, refers to the stage of development at which the grape starts to change, or ripen from a hard green state to a coloured, softer berry. Derek went on to explain, “2009 should be a good vintage if the weather keeps up. The heat has helped the grapes catch up from the cool spring and they are on target for harvest.”

Should a wine be tainted with smoke, winemakers can employ a procedure called reverse osmosis, which allows the finished wine to be filtered through a membrane specifically set to trap the smoke molecule, liberating the wine from the effect of the smoke

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