Smoke taint 2020...

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Roy Piper
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#251 Post by Roy Piper » September 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm

Paul Gordon wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 7:49 pm
Jeff_M. wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:54 am
I think 2020 CA fire zone reds are going to be extremely tough sales to folks like us. 2017 was a much different situation in that quite a bit of the fruit was already harvested. With so much exposure to smoke taint, I myself will be very leery of purchasing 2020 in any sizeable quantity. This isn't a knock on the wineries, I just do not wish to encounter smoke tainted wine 10-20 years down the road.
Jeff

I think the key thing will be transparency. Wineries will need to be honest about taint test results to gain the confidence of their customers.
Btw I have seen no evidence of smoke taint appearing after 10-20 years. It pops out no later than 6-9 months after bottling.

Paul
I think that is generally correct. I saw a study that shows it can keep rising for 3 years in bottle and then after that, it does not go up any more.

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are about some wineries potentially declassifying all modestly (but not severely) tainted SVDs into their $75-80 "Napa" blends, essentially trying to offset any potential taint with killer juice from vineyards that rarely make the lower-priced blends. If some winery moved all of their 2020 down to that level, would that tempt people to take a chance or is everyone more likely just to pass on it, no matter what?
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Brian Tuite
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#252 Post by Brian Tuite » September 22nd, 2020, 8:26 pm

Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm
Paul Gordon wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 7:49 pm
Jeff_M. wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:54 am
I think 2020 CA fire zone reds are going to be extremely tough sales to folks like us. 2017 was a much different situation in that quite a bit of the fruit was already harvested. With so much exposure to smoke taint, I myself will be very leery of purchasing 2020 in any sizeable quantity. This isn't a knock on the wineries, I just do not wish to encounter smoke tainted wine 10-20 years down the road.
Jeff

I think the key thing will be transparency. Wineries will need to be honest about taint test results to gain the confidence of their customers.
Btw I have seen no evidence of smoke taint appearing after 10-20 years. It pops out no later than 6-9 months after bottling.

Paul
I think that is generally correct. I saw a study that shows it can keep rising for 3 years in bottle and then after that, it does not go up any more.

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are about some wineries potentially declassifying all modestly (but not severely) tainted SVDs into their $75-80 "Napa" blends, essentially trying to offset any potential taint with killer juice from vineyards that rarely make the lower-priced blends. If some winery moved all of their 2020 down to that level, would that tempt people to take a chance or is everyone more likely just to pass on it, no matter what?
If it has that acrid edge I’ve tasted on many tainted Cabs it wouldn’t be a buy at any price. OMMV, they’d better hit it with lots of new oak and cross their fingers.
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Roy Piper
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#253 Post by Roy Piper » September 22nd, 2020, 8:28 pm

Brian Tuite wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:26 pm
Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm
Paul Gordon wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 7:49 pm


Jeff

I think the key thing will be transparency. Wineries will need to be honest about taint test results to gain the confidence of their customers.
Btw I have seen no evidence of smoke taint appearing after 10-20 years. It pops out no later than 6-9 months after bottling.

Paul
I think that is generally correct. I saw a study that shows it can keep rising for 3 years in bottle and then after that, it does not go up any more.

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are about some wineries potentially declassifying all modestly (but not severely) tainted SVDs into their $75-80 "Napa" blends, essentially trying to offset any potential taint with killer juice from vineyards that rarely make the lower-priced blends. If some winery moved all of their 2020 down to that level, would that tempt people to take a chance or is everyone more likely just to pass on it, no matter what?
If it has that acrid edge I’ve tasted on many tainted Cabs it wouldn’t be a buy at any price. OMMV, they’d better hit it with lots of new oak and cross their fingers.
Aussies have bush fires all the time. One of them told me this is one reason they like American Oak..... vanilla masks it better than French oak.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#254 Post by Brian Tuite » September 22nd, 2020, 8:35 pm

Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:28 pm
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:26 pm
Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm


I think that is generally correct. I saw a study that shows it can keep rising for 3 years in bottle and then after that, it does not go up any more.

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are about some wineries potentially declassifying all modestly (but not severely) tainted SVDs into their $75-80 "Napa" blends, essentially trying to offset any potential taint with killer juice from vineyards that rarely make the lower-priced blends. If some winery moved all of their 2020 down to that level, would that tempt people to take a chance or is everyone more likely just to pass on it, no matter what?
If it has that acrid edge I’ve tasted on many tainted Cabs it wouldn’t be a buy at any price. OMMV, they’d better hit it with lots of new oak and cross their fingers.
Aussies have bush fires all the time. One of them told me this is one reason they like American Oak..... vanilla masks it better than French oak.
How many Napa Cab producers use American oak? If one were to switch for 2020 wouldn’t it obvious why? Might as well just announce it’s tainted and hope for the best rather than trying to cover it up on the sly? Speaking as a consumer...
Bob Wood - 1949-2013 Berserker for eternity! RIP

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#255 Post by Roy Piper » September 23rd, 2020, 6:08 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:35 pm
Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:28 pm
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:26 pm


If it has that acrid edge I’ve tasted on many tainted Cabs it wouldn’t be a buy at any price. OMMV, they’d better hit it with lots of new oak and cross their fingers.
Aussies have bush fires all the time. One of them told me this is one reason they like American Oak..... vanilla masks it better than French oak.
How many Napa Cab producers use American oak? If one were to switch for 2020 wouldn’t it obvious why? Might as well just announce it’s tainted and hope for the best rather than trying to cover it up on the sly? Speaking as a consumer...
Ridge Monte Bello and Silver Oak Napa, I believe are mainly American Oak. I think if one goes 100%, it would come off different for sure.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#256 Post by Jeff_M. » September 23rd, 2020, 6:37 am

Paul Gordon wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 7:49 pm
Jeff_M. wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:54 am
I think 2020 CA fire zone reds are going to be extremely tough sales to folks like us. 2017 was a much different situation in that quite a bit of the fruit was already harvested. With so much exposure to smoke taint, I myself will be very leery of purchasing 2020 in any sizeable quantity. This isn't a knock on the wineries, I just do not wish to encounter smoke tainted wine 10-20 years down the road.
Jeff

I think the key thing will be transparency. Wineries will need to be honest about taint test results to gain the confidence of their customers.
Btw I have seen no evidence of smoke taint appearing after 10-20 years. It pops out no later than 6-9 months after bottling.

Paul
Paul, thanks for the follow up and I agree about transparency. My comment on 10-20 years was based on how I age my Napa cabs. I am not comfortable with the idea of storing a bottle for 10+ years that is possibly smoke tainted. I would probably want to taste anything with a 20' vintage date in the fire areas before purchasing bottles. I also don't want to condemn the vintage because I know there will be great wine made. There are just lots of question marks and this is a truly sad reality for the industry. We want to buy product and I know all of you ideally want to make wine that is free of any smoke taint.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#257 Post by Chris Atkins » September 23rd, 2020, 9:27 am

Jeff, a highly doubt “there will be great wine made” in 2020. Does every vintage have to produce some great wine? No Does Mother Nature always comply with favorable conditions? No. There are great winemakers out there but sometimes it’s just out of their control. Mother Nature didn’t throw a curveball, she throw a wild pitch! For the record I am not buying any 2020 Napa Valley wine. Two of the four producers I buy from have already announced that they will not make any 2020. I will however show my support by doubling down for 2019.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#258 Post by Alan Rath » September 23rd, 2020, 10:15 am

I trust the few California producers I buy from to decide how they were impacted, and if they will produce and release wine. If they do, I’ll have no hesitancy about buying from them. It’s almost offensive at this point to be painting with such a broad brush. I have more faith in the producers i know than that.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#259 Post by Wes Barton » September 23rd, 2020, 10:28 am

Chris Atkins wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 9:27 am
Jeff, a highly doubt “there will be great wine made” in 2020. Does every vintage have to produce some great wine? No Does Mother Nature always comply with favorable conditions? No. There are great winemakers out there but sometimes it’s just out of their control. Mother Nature didn’t throw a curveball, she throw a wild pitch! For the record I am not buying any 2020 Napa Valley wine. Two of the four producers I buy from have already announced that they will not make any 2020. I will however show my support by doubling down for 2019.
I'm certain there will be great wine made. Not everything got hit. Some sites had quite good conditions this year. Some sites were picked in a rush ahead of smoke, with numbers that hit my preferences - as in where I think they should be picked, anyway. We'll see.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#260 Post by Chris Atkins » September 23rd, 2020, 10:59 am

I have plenty of faith in my producers as well, and I am confident that will not risk their brand by producing a compromised product. The good news is that we have two strong vintages in 18 and 19

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#261 Post by Jeff_M. » September 23rd, 2020, 11:32 am

Chris Atkins wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 9:27 am
Jeff, a highly doubt “there will be great wine made” in 2020. Does every vintage have to produce some great wine? No Does Mother Nature always comply with favorable conditions? No. There are great winemakers out there but sometimes it’s just out of their control. Mother Nature didn’t throw a curveball, she throw a wild pitch! For the record I am not buying any 2020 Napa Valley wine. Two of the four producers I buy from have already announced that they will not make any 2020. I will however show my support by doubling down for 2019.
2012-2019 have produced a string of very good wines in Napa in particular. You take this fire out of the equation and 2020 would have continued that streak. I will also double down on my 2018 and 2019 Napa releases that I regularly purchase and support the wineries.

I saw the email from Neal in August that they weren't producing a 2020 vintage for Howell Mountain or from the valley floor vineyards due to smoke taint and yesterday they posted that they have confirmed test results with taint.

https://www.facebook.com/nealvineyards/ ... _tn__=EH-R
"Last month we decided to not pick our grapes for the 2020 vintage and this morning we dropped our fruit to the ground. We have sent our grapes into labs for Smoke taint results and the high numbers solidified our response to not make wine this year."

I am optimistic that there will still be some great wine made from the 2020 vintage but I will buy with great caution.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#262 Post by Mike Davila » September 23rd, 2020, 2:57 pm

Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are about some wineries potentially declassifying all modestly (but not severely) tainted SVDs into their $75-80 "Napa" blends, essentially trying to offset any potential taint with killer juice from vineyards that rarely make the lower-priced blends. If some winery moved all of their 2020 down to that level, would that tempt people to take a chance or is everyone more likely just to pass on it, no matter what?
Roy,
To directly reply to your question I would not be interested in a declassified wine, and at this time do not plan on purchasing any 2020’s from Napa/Sonoma. I’ll stock up heavier on 18’s/19’s and my cellar could use some diversification anyhow, so I’ll look to Italy/France/Spain for my 2020’s.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#263 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f » September 23rd, 2020, 3:23 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 10:15 am
I trust the few California producers I buy from to decide how they were impacted, and if they will produce and release wine. If they do, I’ll have no hesitancy about buying from them. It’s almost offensive at this point to be painting with such a broad brush. I have more faith in the producers i know than that.
This, exactly, for me. I don't know how I will react if any of them offer some kind of "impacted but discounted" one-off bottling, but if they feel good enough about their 2020 to bottle it and (implicitly) stand behind it as worthy of being released as another vintage of the wine I normally buy from them, I'm a buyer.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#264 Post by James Mc » September 23rd, 2020, 4:38 pm

Curious, can smoke taint from 1 event affect the vines and grapes of the subsequent vintage? Or is there enough time that the smoke is out of the vines by the time the next grapes start growing?
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#265 Post by Al Osterheld » September 23rd, 2020, 4:40 pm

It doesn't affect the following vintage.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#266 Post by Josh Grossman » September 23rd, 2020, 4:48 pm

I'm just going to leave this Ed Helms classic from The Daily Show here and quickly shuffle away:
http://www.cc.com/video-clips/z8dzn5/th ... l-of-taint

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#267 Post by blarmston » September 23rd, 2020, 5:54 pm

This is an unfortunate event (add it to the list for 2020), and I feel for all the people ITB.

That being said, I’m not sure that I can justify taking a chance on this vintage. The fires, the smoke, the heat spikes. It has all the ingredients for a spotty year for Napa. And at the price point that I personally buy at, and my annual purchasing, this may be another 2017. One where I buy from the 3-5 lists that I must to stay on them, and frustratingly hit the delete button on all the others.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#268 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 24th, 2020, 8:22 am

Mike Davila wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 2:57 pm
Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are about some wineries potentially declassifying all modestly (but not severely) tainted SVDs into their $75-80 "Napa" blends, essentially trying to offset any potential taint with killer juice from vineyards that rarely make the lower-priced blends. If some winery moved all of their 2020 down to that level, would that tempt people to take a chance or is everyone more likely just to pass on it, no matter what?
Roy,
To directly reply to your question I would not be interested in a declassified wine, and at this time do not plan on purchasing any 2020’s from Napa/Sonoma. I’ll stock up heavier on 18’s/19’s and my cellar could use some diversification anyhow, so I’ll look to Italy/France/Spain for my 2020’s.
and when one of your coveted small wineries goes under, will you miss it? A blanket statement of not buying any 2020s is going to hurt small wineries like mine and several others on this board. I will have an ETS lab report or not release. It would be wise to keep an open mind.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#269 Post by Victor Hong » September 24th, 2020, 9:55 am

Merrill Lindquist wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 8:22 am
Mike Davila wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 2:57 pm
Roy Piper wrote:
September 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are about some wineries potentially declassifying all modestly (but not severely) tainted SVDs into their $75-80 "Napa" blends, essentially trying to offset any potential taint with killer juice from vineyards that rarely make the lower-priced blends. If some winery moved all of their 2020 down to that level, would that tempt people to take a chance or is everyone more likely just to pass on it, no matter what?
Roy,
To directly reply to your question I would not be interested in a declassified wine, and at this time do not plan on purchasing any 2020’s from Napa/Sonoma. I’ll stock up heavier on 18’s/19’s and my cellar could use some diversification anyhow, so I’ll look to Italy/France/Spain for my 2020’s.
and when one of your coveted small wineries goes under, will you miss it? A blanket statement of not buying any 2020s is going to hurt small wineries like mine and several others on this board. I will have an ETS lab report or not release. It would be wise to keep an open mind.
Even if not smoke tainted, the wines from many big names may need to be discounted, to entice consumers to take a risk.
WineHunter.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#270 Post by Mike Davila » September 24th, 2020, 10:14 am

Merrill Lindquist wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 8:22 am
and when one of your coveted small wineries goes under, will you miss it? A blanket statement of not buying any 2020s is going to hurt small wineries like mine and several others on this board. I will have an ETS lab report or not release. It would be wise to keep an open mind.
[/quote]

Sorry if you took my reply to the question Roy posed as being cavalier towards the viability of any vineyard and/or winemaker going forward. In general and "at this time" I do plan on avoiding the vintage. More likely than total avoidance I'll do what Brian describes above.

Hopefully you'll get a good report and your customers will continue to purchase.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#271 Post by Brian Tuite » September 24th, 2020, 10:23 am

Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 9:55 am
Merrill Lindquist wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 8:22 am
Mike Davila wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 2:57 pm


Roy,
To directly reply to your question I would not be interested in a declassified wine, and at this time do not plan on purchasing any 2020’s from Napa/Sonoma. I’ll stock up heavier on 18’s/19’s and my cellar could use some diversification anyhow, so I’ll look to Italy/France/Spain for my 2020’s.
and when one of your coveted small wineries goes under, will you miss it? A blanket statement of not buying any 2020s is going to hurt small wineries like mine and several others on this board. I will have an ETS lab report or not release. It would be wise to keep an open mind.
Even if not smoke tainted, the wines from many big names may need to be discounted, to entice consumers to take a risk.
If there is no taint there is no risk.
Bob Wood - 1949-2013 Berserker for eternity! RIP

"On self-reflection, I think a big part of it was me just being a PITA customer..." ~ Anonymous Berserker

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#272 Post by Victor Hong » September 24th, 2020, 10:29 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 10:23 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 9:55 am
Merrill Lindquist wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 8:22 am
and when one of your coveted small wineries goes under, will you miss it? A blanket statement of not buying any 2020s is going to hurt small wineries like mine and several others on this board. I will have an ETS lab report or not release. It would be wise to keep an open mind.
Even if not smoke tainted, the wines from many big names may need to be discounted, to entice consumers to take a risk.
If there is no taint there is no risk.
Can you provide a definitive list of which wines?
WineHunter.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#273 Post by Brian Tuite » September 24th, 2020, 11:03 am

Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 10:29 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 10:23 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 9:55 am


Even if not smoke tainted, the wines from many big names may need to be discounted, to entice consumers to take a risk.
If there is no taint there is no risk.
Can you provide a definitive list of which wines?
Why should I have to? I’m not producing/marketing/selling wines. Many producers I have heard from
say they are including clean taint test results with their release information or they are not going to release the wine. It’s their job to educate their customers not mine.
Bob Wood - 1949-2013 Berserker for eternity! RIP

"On self-reflection, I think a big part of it was me just being a PITA customer..." ~ Anonymous Berserker

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#274 Post by Victor Hong » September 24th, 2020, 11:07 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:03 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 10:29 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 10:23 am


If there is no taint there is no risk.
Can you provide a definitive list of which wines?
Why should I have to? I’m not producing/marketing/selling wines. Many producers I have heard from
say they are including clean taint test results with their release information or they are not going to release the wine. It’s their job to educate their customers not mine.
Would they have an incentive to be complete transparent and accurate? If not for certain, would consumers bear that risk which you mentioned?
WineHunter.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#275 Post by Brian Tuite » September 24th, 2020, 11:14 am

Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:07 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:03 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 10:29 am
Can you provide a definitive list of which wines?
Why should I have to? I’m not producing/marketing/selling wines. Many producers I have heard from
say they are including clean taint test results with their release information or they are not going to release the wine. It’s their job to educate their customers not mine.
Would they have an incentive to be complete transparent and accurate? If not for certain, would consumers bear that risk which you mentioned?
Incentive? If I lie to my customers and misrepresent my product in order to get sales and they then discover I was dishonest/misleading they will no longer do business with me and will tell everyone who will listen that I am not to be trusted.

That’s incentive enough for me. How about you?
Bob Wood - 1949-2013 Berserker for eternity! RIP

"On self-reflection, I think a big part of it was me just being a PITA customer..." ~ Anonymous Berserker

"Something so subtle only I can detect it." ~ Randy Bowman

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#276 Post by David H. » September 24th, 2020, 11:23 am

Black Sears announced today they will be skipping their entire lineup for the 2020 vintage and had to destroy their 2018 vintage due to smoke taint from the Mendocino & Camp fires for their Estate Cab and Cab Franc. Chris had previously posted a short video on Instagram pouring the 2018 vintage down the drain.

Shame, as they are one of my favorite producers.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#277 Post by Victor Hong » September 24th, 2020, 11:25 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:14 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:07 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:03 am


Why should I have to? I’m not producing/marketing/selling wines. Many producers I have heard from
say they are including clean taint test results with their release information or they are not going to release the wine. It’s their job to educate their customers not mine.
Would they have an incentive to be complete transparent and accurate? If not for certain, would consumers bear that risk which you mentioned?
Incentive? If I lie to my customers and misrepresent my product in order to get sales and they then discover I was dishonest/misleading they will no longer do business with me and will tell everyone who will listen that I am not to be trusted.

That’s incentive enough for me. How about you?
OK. Misrepresentation about smoke taint would never happen, then.
WineHunter.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#278 Post by Jeff_M. » September 24th, 2020, 11:32 am

David H. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:23 am
Black Sears announced today they will be skipping their entire lineup for the 2020 vintage and had to destroy their 2018 vintage due to smoke taint from the Mendocino & Camp fires for their Estate Cab and Cab Franc. Chris had previously posted a short video on Instagram pouring the 2018 vintage down the drain.

Shame, as they are one of my favorite producers.
Wonder if everyone up there on Howell Mountain will have the same issue with those 2018s? Terrible news for them.

Hard edit, did you mean 2019??
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#279 Post by Brian Tuite » September 24th, 2020, 11:45 am

Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:25 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:14 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:07 am

Would they have an incentive to be complete transparent and accurate? If not for certain, would consumers bear that risk which you mentioned?
Incentive? If I lie to my customers and misrepresent my product in order to get sales and they then discover I was dishonest/misleading they will no longer do business with me and will tell everyone who will listen that I am not to be trusted.

That’s incentive enough for me. How about you?
OK. Misrepresentation about smoke taint would never happen, then.

I can only speak for myself and my business practices.

Question, if you drink a wine that smells and tastes fantastic in every way but find out from the specs that it has measurable taint does that change the flavor? If a tree falls and nobody is a around....?

If you drink a wine that smells and tastes like an ashtray but the producer swears it’s not tainted do you continue to do business with them?
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#280 Post by David H. » September 24th, 2020, 11:50 am

Jeff_M. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:32 am
David H. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:23 am
Black Sears announced today they will be skipping their entire lineup for the 2020 vintage and had to destroy their 2018 vintage due to smoke taint from the Mendocino & Camp fires for their Estate Cab and Cab Franc. Chris had previously posted a short video on Instagram pouring the 2018 vintage down the drain.

Shame, as they are one of my favorite producers.
Wonder if everyone up there on Howell Mountain will have the same issue with those 2018s? Terrible news for them.

Hard edit, did you mean 2019??
No, 2018 per the email I received.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#281 Post by David H. » September 24th, 2020, 11:51 am

Jeff_M. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:32 am
David H. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:23 am
Black Sears announced today they will be skipping their entire lineup for the 2020 vintage and had to destroy their 2018 vintage due to smoke taint from the Mendocino & Camp fires for their Estate Cab and Cab Franc. Chris had previously posted a short video on Instagram pouring the 2018 vintage down the drain.

Shame, as they are one of my favorite producers.
Wonder if everyone up there on Howell Mountain will have the same issue with those 2018s? Terrible news for them.

Hard edit, did you mean 2019??
This is the text of the email.
Hi David

We would like to thank you all for your words of sympathy, support, and encouragement during this difficult wildfire season. We are safe, and our homes, winery, and vineyards here continue to stand at the top of Howell Mountain. This year has been truly humbling.

Most of you know that our winegrowing philosophy at Black Sears, both as growers and as wine producers, is one that places Quality and an unadulterated expression of both terroir (place) and vintage (time) above all else. This is a philosophy that can be, as we like to say, “uncompromising.”

As such, we must regretfully announce that we will skip the entire 2020 vintage due to the influence of smoke from this year’s devastating wildfires.

Furthermore, we must also regretfully announce the destruction of the 2018 Black Sears Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Black Sears Estate Cabernet Franc due to smoke taint from the Mendocino complex and Camp fires in 2018.

The influence of the smoky phenols in these vintages is simply beyond what we consider to be our strict standards of Quality. And we will never bottle a wine we don't believe in 100%.

We hope you understand. And again, we are so grateful for your support - always, and especially during this trying time.

Wishing you the Best... and nothing less,

-The Black Sears Family
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#282 Post by Wes Barton » September 24th, 2020, 12:03 pm

Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:25 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:14 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:07 am

Would they have an incentive to be complete transparent and accurate? If not for certain, would consumers bear that risk which you mentioned?
Incentive? If I lie to my customers and misrepresent my product in order to get sales and they then discover I was dishonest/misleading they will no longer do business with me and will tell everyone who will listen that I am not to be trusted.

That’s incentive enough for me. How about you?
OK. Misrepresentation about smoke taint would never happen, then.
It would be fraud. The smoke taint would present itself at some point. It wouldn't even be a risk, it would be a certainty. A winery knowingly putting up false lab reports would be causing themselves more damage legally and reputationally than any possible gain.

As a customer, if you do as The Real Alan and buy from producers you trust, you will be fine. Pick up some fly-by-night unheard of label on the bottom shelf at Trader Joe's, you should expect something smoky or "fixed".
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#283 Post by Jeff_M. » September 24th, 2020, 12:05 pm

David H. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:51 am
Jeff_M. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:32 am
David H. wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:23 am
Black Sears announced today they will be skipping their entire lineup for the 2020 vintage and had to destroy their 2018 vintage due to smoke taint from the Mendocino & Camp fires for their Estate Cab and Cab Franc. Chris had previously posted a short video on Instagram pouring the 2018 vintage down the drain.

Shame, as they are one of my favorite producers.
Wonder if everyone up there on Howell Mountain will have the same issue with those 2018s? Terrible news for them.

Hard edit, did you mean 2019??
This is the text of the email.
Hi David

We would like to thank you all for your words of sympathy, support, and encouragement during this difficult wildfire season. We are safe, and our homes, winery, and vineyards here continue to stand at the top of Howell Mountain. This year has been truly humbling.

Most of you know that our winegrowing philosophy at Black Sears, both as growers and as wine producers, is one that places Quality and an unadulterated expression of both terroir (place) and vintage (time) above all else. This is a philosophy that can be, as we like to say, “uncompromising.”

As such, we must regretfully announce that we will skip the entire 2020 vintage due to the influence of smoke from this year’s devastating wildfires.

Furthermore, we must also regretfully announce the destruction of the 2018 Black Sears Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Black Sears Estate Cabernet Franc due to smoke taint from the Mendocino complex and Camp fires in 2018.

The influence of the smoky phenols in these vintages is simply beyond what we consider to be our strict standards of Quality. And we will never bottle a wine we don't believe in 100%.

We hope you understand. And again, we are so grateful for your support - always, and especially during this trying time.

Wishing you the Best... and nothing less,

-The Black Sears Family
Ugh, thanks for sharing. I buy more wine from Howell Mountain than any other AVA so this one really truly sucks to see.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#284 Post by Sean_S » September 24th, 2020, 1:56 pm

This just in from Esther Mobley at the San Francisco Chronicle (Dont think this is behind paywall)

"Lemonade out of lemons’: Distillery turns smoke-tainted wine grapes into purposefully smoky grappa"

https://link.sfchronicle.com/view/5f47f ... p/e0b9f611

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#285 Post by Chris Atkins » September 24th, 2020, 4:06 pm

Interesting that Black Sears dumped their 2018’s because of the “Mendocino and Camp Fires”. Tbe Mendocino fire 🔥 began in July and while it was the largest fire in modern California history, it’s proximity to Napa Valley and Howell Mtn in particular was quite a distance, and I wasn’t aware of any negative impact on vineyards south of Lake County?

The Camp Fire 🔥 on the other hand ignited on November 8. How could that fire have any impact on the grapes 🍇?November 8!

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#286 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 24th, 2020, 4:35 pm

Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:45 am
Victor Hong wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:25 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 11:14 am


Incentive? If I lie to my customers and misrepresent my product in order to get sales and they then discover I was dishonest/misleading they will no longer do business with me and will tell everyone who will listen that I am not to be trusted.

That’s incentive enough for me. How about you?
OK. Misrepresentation about smoke taint would never happen, then.

I can only speak for myself and my business practices.

Question, if you drink a wine that smells and tastes fantastic in every way but find out from the specs that it has measurable taint does that change the flavor? If a tree falls and nobody is a around....?

If you drink a wine that smells and tastes like an ashtray but the producer swears it’s not tainted do you continue to do business with them?
Great post!
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#287 Post by larry schaffer » September 24th, 2020, 5:22 pm

This is about to get dicey, me thinks . . .

[popcorn.gif]
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#288 Post by Roy Piper » September 24th, 2020, 7:41 pm

Fascinating responses and a lot to cover...

We've had fires for 4 straight years now and I don't think we are done with fires in 2020. Typically, October is fire season, not September.

We had the stunning fires from 2017 in Napa and Santa Rosa that messed up a lot of grapes still on the vine, although more than 1/2 were in the tank when it began, so most wineries could handle it. In 2018 we had the Paradise Fire, which was a good distance away but did cause some taint in parts of the northern-Napa mountains (remember that smoke rises.) 2019 was the huge Kincaid Fire in Alexander Valley, which probably caused havoc there. But that smoke blew away from Napa and was only in Napa for two days, so no big deal for us. We got lucky. And then a million acres burned in NorCal over the last month due to a few hours of freak lightning. Which moving forward might not be so... "freak."

This is quickly becoming the new normal and I think to not accept that paradigm is to make a potentially fatal business blunder. All wineries and growers now need to include fire risk in their business plans.

With a lot of wine bulked out in 2017 and probably a whole lot more this year, wine country as we know it is not sustainable if this continues. If Napa loses 1.5 out of every 4 vintages moving forward for another 4-8 years, I predict 1/2 of all wineries go under/change hands and at least that many growers, too. Not to mention wineries that need restaurant sales, which are down 50-100% right now due to Covid, saw lower demand before these fires even began. So I think a lot of wineries are barely hanging-on and these new economic realities will cascade down to growers when wineries lower their production in coming years.

Someone I know who has been in the valley for decades told me the other day "This will be your generation's phylloxera crisis." I think that is accurate. Napa and Sonoma will not just "get over" this year and get back on the horse next year. I've heard one massive publicly-traded winery conglomerate is walking away from almost every grower this year. I've not heard of them picking even one grower-vineyard in 2020 because of taint results from their own lab... although magically they are picking their own fruit!

With most good vineyards costing $15,000-20,000 per acre to manage in Napa, the prospect of getting $0 for a vintage, even for just one year, is not good news for them. Vineyard owners are often "asset rich but cash poor." A typical family grower with 10 acres growing 35 tons of Cab selling at $7500 per ton would typically spend $175,000 to get revenues of $262,000. Now they will spend $175,000 to get $0. I don't think all of them can survive even one-year of that dynamic, much less 1.5 out of every 4. Something has got to give. Some growers have "crop insurance" but I predict that goes away next year or the premiums become so high that no one can afford them.

2017 was an odd year as no one knew what the heck was going on. Almost everyone got paid, or looked at the vintage as a one-time blip. This time it is different. And I think every grower contract will be getting significant re-writes over the holidays. I've already heard whispers of some clauses that might get inserted. In 2017 the wineries mostly took the taint-risk and losses. This year, its the growers. I see battle lines drawn over this issue moving forward. Many relationships are about to get "strained."

It is not a coincidence that some bigger wineries that have already proclaimed they will not make a 2020, are suddenly getting a great chance to reduce costs in a recession by dropping growers. And also an additional year to sell wine from older years sitting at the warehouse. I notice some of these wineries also let go of tasting room staff due to Covid, which makes me wonder who will be doing all that selling? On the other hand, if the vintage turns out strongly tainted, then it would be ruinous for wineries to pay for fruit that qualifies as "damaged" in any normal contract. Wineries should only be assuming risk after the grapes are delivered, not before. That may be about to change.

All of this, in the end, means nothing to the consumers, who will probably respond by buying more 2018 and 2019 (another stellar vintage) and then doing what many here are saying they might do, when the 2020 comes out. And smaller wineries will struggle to make it through such revenue volatility if they are in a precarious economic place, already. In the end, many consumers and winery owners forget that wine is just sexy farming. It's been a stunning run for wine country since the late 1980s but I believe we are in for a few years of very difficult times that might change the landscape of wine country economically, as the fires change it, physically. As Warren Buffett once said "It's not til the tide goes out that you see who has been swimming naked." Although I am afraid this is going to hurt not just those who were careless but some of those who worked hard and played by the rules, as well.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#289 Post by GregP » September 24th, 2020, 8:08 pm

Some Wine Institute hack today gave her $.05 on the subject where she insisted that smoke taint is only a problem in Sonoma and Napa while listing Paso, SLH/Monterey and Santa Cruz all smoke taint free.

If anyone still somehow believes there isn't and won't be a PR spin on smoke taint, please PM me, I have a rather large portfolio of bridges you can bid on. Vast majority of wineries will make smoke tainted wines and sell them, one way or another, we here are only maybe a 5% slice of the market, and not their target audience no matter what.
Last edited by GregP on September 24th, 2020, 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#290 Post by Ed Steinway » September 24th, 2020, 8:14 pm

Roy Piper wrote:
Fascinating responses and a lot to cover...

We've had fires for 4 straight years now and I don't think we are done with fires in 2020. Typically, October is fire season, not September.

We had the stunning fires from 2017 in Napa and Santa Rosa that messed up a lot of grapes still on the vine, although more than 1/2 were in the tank when it began, so most wineries could handle it. In 2018 we had the Paradise Fire, which was a good distance away but did cause some taint in parts of the northern-Napa mountains (remember that smoke rises.) 2019 was the huge Kincaid Fire in Alexander Valley, which probably caused havoc there. But that smoke blew away from Napa and was only in Napa for two days, so no big deal for us. We got lucky. And then a million acres burned in NorCal over the last month due to a few hours of freak lightning. Which moving forward might not be so... "freak."

This is quickly becoming the new normal and I think to not accept that paradigm is to make a potentially fatal business blunder. All wineries and growers now need to include fire risk in their business plans.

With a lot of wine bulked out in 2017 and probably a whole lot more this year, wine country as we know it is not sustainable if this continues. If Napa loses 1.5 out of every 4 vintages moving forward for another 4-8 years, I predict 1/2 of all wineries go under/change hands and at least that many growers, too. Not to mention wineries that need restaurant sales, which are down 50-100% right now due to Covid, saw lower demand before these fires even began. So I think a lot of wineries are barely hanging-on and these new economic realities will cascade down to growers when wineries lower their production in coming years.

Someone I know who has been in the valley for decades told me the other day "This will be your generation's phylloxera crisis." I think that is accurate. Napa and Sonoma will not just "get over" this year and get back on the horse next year. I've heard one massive publicly-traded winery conglomerate is walking away from almost every grower this year. I've not heard of them picking even one grower-vineyard in 2020 because of taint results from their own lab... although magically they are picking their own fruit!

With most good vineyards costing $15,000-20,000 per acre to manage in Napa, the prospect of getting $0 for a vintage, even for just one year, is not good news for them. Vineyard owners are often "asset rich but cash poor." A typical family grower with 10 acres growing 35 tons of Cab selling at $7500 per ton would typically spend $175,000 to get revenues of $262,000. Now they will spend $175,000 to get $0. I don't think all of them can survive even one-year of that dynamic, much less 1.5 out of every 4. Something has got to give. Some growers have "crop insurance" but I predict that goes away next year or the premiums become so high that no one can afford them.

2017 was an odd year as no one knew what the heck was going on. Almost everyone got paid, or looked at the vintage as a one-time blip. This time it is different. And I think every grower contract will be getting significant re-writes over the holidays. I've already heard whispers of some clauses that might get inserted. In 2017 the wineries mostly took the taint-risk and losses. This year, its the growers. I see battle lines drawn over this issue moving forward. Many relationships are about to get "strained."

It is not a coincidence that some bigger wineries that have already proclaimed they will not make a 2020, are suddenly getting a great chance to reduce costs in a recession by dropping growers. And also an additional year to sell wine from older years sitting at the warehouse. I notice some of these wineries also let go of tasting room staff due to Covid, which makes me wonder who will be doing all that selling? On the other hand, if the vintage turns out strongly tainted, then it would be ruinous for wineries to pay for fruit that qualifies as "damaged" in any normal contract. Wineries should only be assuming risk after the grapes are delivered, not before. That may be about to change.

All of this, in the end, means nothing to the consumers, who will probably respond by buying more 2018 and 2019 (another stellar vintage) and then doing what many here are saying they might do, when the 2020 comes out. And smaller wineries will struggle to make it through such revenue volatility if they are in a precarious economic place, already. In the end, many consumers and winery owners forget that wine is just sexy farming. It's been a stunning run for wine country since the late 1980s but I believe we are in for a few years of very difficult times that might change the landscape of wine country economically, as the fires change it, physically. As Warren Buffett once said "It's not til the tide goes out that you see who has been swimming naked." Although I am afraid this is going to hurt not just those who were careless but some of those who worked hard and played by the rules, as well.
An equally fascinating post, Roy. Thank you for taking the time to articulate your thoughts here.

Ed

Edited for spelling.
Last edited by Ed Steinway on September 25th, 2020, 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#291 Post by timmy roos » September 24th, 2020, 8:17 pm

We have crop insurance so at least we don’t go out of business. Here’s the crappy thing: it is based on average tons per acre and if you don’t harvest you don’t get full credit for grapes in future years. Losing one harvest hurts and pulls down ones average yield but two in three years will take a while to work out of the system
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#292 Post by Bdklein » September 25th, 2020, 12:40 am

Here's a pretty good article on the topic.


https://www.sfgate.com/news/amp/Wildfir ... 592960.php
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#293 Post by Jeff_M. » September 25th, 2020, 6:28 am

Got an email from Zichichi in Dry Creek yesterday, no 2020 reds.
Dear Zichichi Winery Patrons,

I hope that you and your families are well and safe. I want to provide you with an update on the fire that has affected our beloved Dry Creek Valley and surrounding areas.

Our home, winery, and vineyards were spared from the fire that was just west of the valley and our winemaking and vineyard teams and their families are also safe and unscathed. The prolonged smoke in the valley has, however, damaged our red grapes and while some wineries have proceeded with their harvest, we have made the very difficult decision to not pick any red grapes from our 2020 crop. Our 2020 Sauvignon Blanc was harvested prior to the severe smoke exposure and the wine is beautiful as ever and will be shipped along with the 2019 futures this coming March.

Our winery is built on our relationships with you, our valued customers. You purchase your futures, usually without even tasting the wines, as you are confident that we will deliver a consistent and fairly priced wine each and every year. You have become much more than just clients as we have become good friends who frequently share conversations about our families, wine, cuisine, sports and many other topics. It always makes my day when one of you enters our tasting room and we can visit in person even if it must be outside during the pandemic. We cannot, with a good conscience, send you an inferior wine which is what we would be doing if we produced red wine in 2020.

Although the loss of an entire vintage will be a huge financial hardship, our winery will survive. The 2019 futures currently in the barrel are some of the best wines that we have ever produced and there is still some availability left at the usual 20% savings. We also have limited quantities of 2018 Estate Zinfandel , 2018 North Block Estate Zinfandel, 2016 “ Pyramid Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon , and 2016 North Block Estate Petite Sirah currently in bottles and available for shipment now. If you have not placed your 2019 future order for our current barrel wines, we encourage you to do so. If you already have a 2019 order, you may consider increasing it or purchasing some of our bottled wines. After the 2019 futures ship to you in March, we will not have other futures to provide you with until spring 2023.

Thank you as always for being part of winery family and for making Zichichi Family Vineyard what it is and will continue to be.



Cheers,

Steve
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#294 Post by GregP » September 25th, 2020, 6:39 pm

Even I, ever skeptical and sarcastic one, underestimated the spin already taking place.

RE: "The industry no longer calls it smoke taint as some palates such as my own prefer and seek out the ash taste in wine, so it can be a positive," says Sally Murdoch, communications manager for the Oregon Wine Board. "We now refer to it as smoke-impacted grapes or smoke-affected grapes."

Once a new moniker has been advanced you simply know what's coming. Not picking on OR, a hack in CA said pretty much same thing yesterday (see my post above). Have no idea how these people got and hold their jobs. Neither represents honest and ethical wineries/winemakers, IMO.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#295 Post by Bill James » September 25th, 2020, 7:15 pm

Roy Piper wrote:
September 24th, 2020, 7:41 pm
Fascinating responses and a lot to cover...

We've had fires for 4 straight years now and I don't think we are done with fires in 2020. Typically, October is fire season, not September.

We had the stunning fires from 2017 in Napa and Santa Rosa that messed up a lot of grapes still on the vine, although more than 1/2 were in the tank when it began, so most wineries could handle it. In 2018 we had the Paradise Fire, which was a good distance away but did cause some taint in parts of the northern-Napa mountains (remember that smoke rises.) 2019 was the huge Kincaid Fire in Alexander Valley, which probably caused havoc there. But that smoke blew away from Napa and was only in Napa for two days, so no big deal for us. We got lucky. And then a million acres burned in NorCal over the last month due to a few hours of freak lightning. Which moving forward might not be so... "freak."

This is quickly becoming the new normal and I think to not accept that paradigm is to make a potentially fatal business blunder. All wineries and growers now need to include fire risk in their business plans.

With a lot of wine bulked out in 2017 and probably a whole lot more this year, wine country as we know it is not sustainable if this continues. If Napa loses 1.5 out of every 4 vintages moving forward for another 4-8 years, I predict 1/2 of all wineries go under/change hands and at least that many growers, too. Not to mention wineries that need restaurant sales, which are down 50-100% right now due to Covid, saw lower demand before these fires even began. So I think a lot of wineries are barely hanging-on and these new economic realities will cascade down to growers when wineries lower their production in coming years.

Someone I know who has been in the valley for decades told me the other day "This will be your generation's phylloxera crisis." I think that is accurate. Napa and Sonoma will not just "get over" this year and get back on the horse next year. I've heard one massive publicly-traded winery conglomerate is walking away from almost every grower this year. I've not heard of them picking even one grower-vineyard in 2020 because of taint results from their own lab... although magically they are picking their own fruit!

With most good vineyards costing $15,000-20,000 per acre to manage in Napa, the prospect of getting $0 for a vintage, even for just one year, is not good news for them. Vineyard owners are often "asset rich but cash poor." A typical family grower with 10 acres growing 35 tons of Cab selling at $7500 per ton would typically spend $175,000 to get revenues of $262,000. Now they will spend $175,000 to get $0. I don't think all of them can survive even one-year of that dynamic, much less 1.5 out of every 4. Something has got to give. Some growers have "crop insurance" but I predict that goes away next year or the premiums become so high that no one can afford them.

2017 was an odd year as no one knew what the heck was going on. Almost everyone got paid, or looked at the vintage as a one-time blip. This time it is different. And I think every grower contract will be getting significant re-writes over the holidays. I've already heard whispers of some clauses that might get inserted. In 2017 the wineries mostly took the taint-risk and losses. This year, its the growers. I see battle lines drawn over this issue moving forward. Many relationships are about to get "strained."

It is not a coincidence that some bigger wineries that have already proclaimed they will not make a 2020, are suddenly getting a great chance to reduce costs in a recession by dropping growers. And also an additional year to sell wine from older years sitting at the warehouse. I notice some of these wineries also let go of tasting room staff due to Covid, which makes me wonder who will be doing all that selling? On the other hand, if the vintage turns out strongly tainted, then it would be ruinous for wineries to pay for fruit that qualifies as "damaged" in any normal contract. Wineries should only be assuming risk after the grapes are delivered, not before. That may be about to change.

All of this, in the end, means nothing to the consumers, who will probably respond by buying more 2018 and 2019 (another stellar vintage) and then doing what many here are saying they might do, when the 2020 comes out. And smaller wineries will struggle to make it through such revenue volatility if they are in a precarious economic place, already. In the end, many consumers and winery owners forget that wine is just sexy farming. It's been a stunning run for wine country since the late 1980s but I believe we are in for a few years of very difficult times that might change the landscape of wine country economically, as the fires change it, physically. As Warren Buffett once said "It's not til the tide goes out that you see who has been swimming naked." Although I am afraid this is going to hurt not just those who were careless but some of those who worked hard and played by the rules, as well.
Fantastic post, Roy, and extremely informative. Thank you.

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Bruce Rudman
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#296 Post by Bruce Rudman » September 26th, 2020, 6:11 am

I am not a naysayer. If I am told the wines are ok to buy from my trusted winery friends with 2020 wines to sell, I will trust them. After all, they risk my next years' purchases by misleading me, but again, I do not think those I buy from would knowingly do so. I also believe if something developed later, they would take care of me as a valued customer.

This said, I am not in the industry and admittedly chemistry was not my strong subject. is there definitive proof that a "clean" lab test means there was zero affect on the grapes' taste? I thought the 2008 Anderson Valley grape fiasco taught us that wines could develop the smoke taint years after bottling? One advantage of releasing the lab test results with the release of the wine is that no one can say the winery knowingly bottled tainted grapes. But, I am curious if we will ever know, before pulling the cork several years later, if the wines were unaffected?
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Roy Piper
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#297 Post by Roy Piper » September 26th, 2020, 10:31 am

Chris Atkins wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 9:27 am
Jeff, a highly doubt “there will be great wine made” in 2020. Does every vintage have to produce some great wine? No Does Mother Nature always comply with favorable conditions? No. There are great winemakers out there but sometimes it’s just out of their control. Mother Nature didn’t throw a curveball, she throw a wild pitch! For the record I am not buying any 2020 Napa Valley wine. Two of the four producers I buy from have already announced that they will not make any 2020. I will however show my support by doubling down for 2019.
I can say without question that if not for the taint we would be looking at our third straight excellent vintage. And that might be under selling it. I have one Cab at 8 Brix and another cold soaking. So far no off scents at all, with incredible concentration and great aromas.

But taint is masked by sugar, so as the sugar converts to alcohol, that’s when you start to notice it. But even then, it can go to barrel and then come out there, or after malo, even. And we know it can go up on bottle for up to 3 years. Honestly though I think we will know the score by Christmas.

In talking with winemakers I respect, a bunch of us are going to take it one stage of winemaking at a time. And if at any point the taint shows up in any more than the most minor way, stop there. I made my usual amount of wine this year and if it all gets bulked out at $15 per gallon, it will be a big financial hole. But I can survive.

Right now I am loving how the wines taste but I know it might well be fleeting. Gotta enjoy the moment for what it is. Growers put a lot of work in all year and I feel I at least owe them MY best effort for as long as I can, otherwise they might feel they are part of an equation, to be tossed aside the moment the numbers don’t add up. I don’t want Napa to be run like an Amazon algorithm. I am not sure how this works out financially for anyone, and if the wines are unusable then I don’t see how I can pay much for what would qualify as “damaged fruit.” But I want to at least try to do something. At worst, I learn and take some kind of financial hit.

Both my parents grew up farmers, one in Wisconsin and one in Montana. Hearing them talk, I know this business is a farming business and thus more volatile than its appears on the surface. I don’t look at great wine as a “right,” nor so I look at a profit as such, every year. And given the costs of excellent wine now, none of us should complain if people back away from 2020 and load up on 2019 instead. But if we have the right relationships and I can make something really great (but imperfect) and the price is right (50-70%) discount, who knows what happens? No need to make a decision about a release in 2022-2023 when we are still fermenting.

I am actually in a good mood and so are many of the winemakers I hang with. The smoke has been gone a week, the weather is great (at least until tomorrow) and the juice tastes glorious at the moment. We still live in one of the greatest areas one can live and the people are great and one good thing about wines... there is always another vintage just around the corner.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#298 Post by Brian Tuite » September 26th, 2020, 10:40 am

Roy Piper wrote:
September 26th, 2020, 10:31 am
Chris Atkins wrote:
September 23rd, 2020, 9:27 am
Jeff, a highly doubt “there will be great wine made” in 2020. Does every vintage have to produce some great wine? No Does Mother Nature always comply with favorable conditions? No. There are great winemakers out there but sometimes it’s just out of their control. Mother Nature didn’t throw a curveball, she throw a wild pitch! For the record I am not buying any 2020 Napa Valley wine. Two of the four producers I buy from have already announced that they will not make any 2020. I will however show my support by doubling down for 2019.
I can say without question that if not for the taint we would be looking at our third straight excellent vintage. And that might be under selling it. I have one Cab at 8 Brix and another cold soaking. So far no off scents at all, with incredible concentration and great aromas.

But taint is masked by sugar, so as the sugar converts to alcohol, that’s when you start to notice it. But even then, it can go to barrel and then come out there, or after malo, even. And we know it can go up on bottle for up to 3 years. Honestly though I think we will know the score by Christmas.

In talking with winemakers I respect, a bunch of us are going to take it one stage of winemaking at a time. And if at any point the taint shows up in any more than the most minor way, stop there. I made my usual amount of wine this year and if it all gets bulked out at $15 per gallon, it will be a big financial hole. But I can survive.

Right now I am loving how the wines taste but I know it might well be fleeting. Gotta enjoy the moment for what it is. Growers put a lot of work in all year and I feel I at least owe them MY best effort for as long as I can, otherwise they might feel they are part of an equation, to be tossed aside the moment the numbers don’t add up. I don’t want Napa to be run like an Amazon algorithm. I am not sure how this works out financially for anyone, and if the wines are unusable then I don’t see how I can pay much for what would qualify as “damaged fruit.” But I want to at least try to do something. At worst, I learn and take some kind of financial hit.

Both my parents grew up farmers, one in Wisconsin and one in Montana. Hearing them talk, I know this business is a farming business and thus more volatile than its appears on the surface. I don’t look at great wine as a “right,” nor so I look at a profit as such, every year.

I am actually in a good mood and so are many of the winemakers I hang with. The smoke has been gone a week, the weather is great (at least until tomorrow) and the juice tastes glorious at the moment. We still live in one of the greatest areas one can live and the people are great and one good thing about wines... there is always another vintage just around the corner.
I was told the phenolics and color are incredible this year.

I’m with Bruce as far as trusting my producers goes. There will be some great wines in 2020 and I don’t want to miss them. As for clean test results go I’ll bet you money that there are 2017 wines out that there that didn’t test clean but have no detectable taint in the tasting notes. There’s gotta be.

In 2008 the wineries said fu¢k it and some bottled wine knowing it was seriously tainted. I think they have better understanding of the data these days.
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Roy Piper
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#299 Post by Roy Piper » September 26th, 2020, 10:46 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
September 26th, 2020, 10:40 am

In 2008 the wineries said fu¢k it and some bottled wine knowing it was seriously tainted. I think they have better understanding of the data these days.
It’s magical to me how half the fruit was on the vine when the fires hit in 2017 but in release letters, everything seems to have been off the vine when the fires hit!!!
flirtysmile

This year no one gets away with that.
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Al Osterheld
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#300 Post by Al Osterheld » September 26th, 2020, 10:54 am

FWIW, I think the taint would be more of a taste and retronasal thing at this point than a smell. Enzymes in your saliva can break down the glycosides and free some of the volatile phenolic compounds. Some of them also break down as the wine ferments although I think the amount depends on the pH.

In 2008, I think most of the smoke tainted wine that was sold had been treated to reduce the level of the taint, then it came back as more of the glycosides broke down. I don't think the wineries understood it could come back.

-Al

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