Wineries ‘on guard’ over possible ‘smoke taint’

The Eagle Creek Fire has sent smoke to the area, but wineries aren't too concerned over 'smoke taint' affecting their grapes

The effect is known as smoke taint, and it could give grapes an unpleasant taste, Sept. 13, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Eagle Creek Fire, and the smoke and ash permeating around the region, hasn’t made Hood River the go-to winery destination. Traffic to the area has slowed, but the ash and smoke has also caused local wineries to asses the status of their grapes.

The effect is known as smoke taint, and it could give grapes an unpleasant taste. But Patrick Barr, the co-owner of Hood Crest Winery, said he’s concerned about smoke taint but not alarmed.

“I’m not tasting it and I’m not seeing it on the plants,” Carr said. “But I’ll probably send some out (for testing) to see where and if they’re showing levels (of smoke taint).”

Robb Bell, the owner of Cathedral Ridge Winery in Dundee, isn’t worried about smoke tainting his grapes, either. He also said it could be some time before they really know the effect from the Eagle Creek Fire smoke.

“The thing about it, it’s not likely to be spotted until 6 or 10 months in the bottle,” Bell said. The chemistry is very ambiguous.”

Bell also added that, in order for smoke taint to have an effect, the fire needs to be really close to the grapes. Still, they’re going to take all possibilities into consideration.

“We’re on guard, so to speak,” Bell said. “But I don’t think it would be a widespread phenomenon in the harvest.”