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California wildfires may give local wines a 'smoky' flavour for years to come

Tuesday, September 22nd 2020, 3:48 pm - The full economic impact on the wine industry is unknown.

The west coast wildfires will impact the taste of California wine, possibly for years to come, according to a press release from Syracuse University.

Burak Kazaz, a professor of supply chain management at Syracuse University and a wine industry expert, says consumers can expect some of their favourite wines to have a slightly smoky flavour.

"There are ways that winemakers can attempt to 'mask' the smoky taste, but it's literally permeated everything, from the grapes themselves to the wooden crates and barrels used to store grapes and the finished wine product," Kazaz says in a statement.

"Heavy smoke and a burnt flavor is hard to remove, and the effect is cumulative as the state has been hit hard by wildfires for the past few years."

FULL IMPACT ON WINE INDUSTRY UNKNOWN

At least two wineries were damaged by California wildfires this summer, according to the California Wine Institute(CWI).

But the organization is quick to point out the full economic impact on the wine industry is unknown.

"California wine country is vast with winegrapes grown in 49 of California’s 58 counties. With the majority of the state’s wineries and vineyards untouched by the wildfires, California vintners and growers are in the midst of harvest following an excellent 2020 growing season," reads a statement on the CWI website.

"In regions that experienced smoke from wildfires, it is too early to tell the extent to which smoke exposure may be an issue for the vintage."

Wine - pexels - adonyi gabor File photo courtesy: Pexels/Adonyi Gábor.

WIDESPREAD FIRES

Dry weather, lightning, and human activity combined to create several large and damaging fires in western portions of the U.S. this summer.

So far, at least 26 people people have been killed by the fires, which have caused more than a billion dollars in damages.

At 137,563 hectares, the SCU Lightning Complex Fire, and the 31,574-hectare LNU Lightning Complex Fire became California's second and third biggest wildfires ever, respectively.

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