By Samantha Bakall
Greg Jones, a wine climatologist who runs Linfield College’s wine education program, said smoke has the potential to “taint” wines. Smoke particles from wildfires or grass fires can stick to the waxy outer layer of grapes. That crenulated surface, unnoticeable to the naked eye or touch, has the ability to hold small particles, like yeast, bacteria or smoke.
Unfortunately for winemakers, smoke is a problem that can’t be mitigated or protected against like drought, frost or pests.
It’s unlikely that winemakers would let smoke-tainted wines reach the public, Jones said.
Across the regions, winemakers see adaptation as the best way to fight both smoke taint and the increasingly warmer summers we’re experiencing across the state. Some are looking to diversifying the varieties they grow to include some that manage heat stress or drought conditions better than others.
Higher temperatures will actually have a positive effect on Oregon’s wine production, at least for a little while.