Remedies for Smoke Taint?

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David Kingsbury
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Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#1 Post by David Kingsbury »

Hi, first post here. I find the annual weather thread to be an excellent source of knowledge and news. We will be picking a small amount of Pinot this weekend in Sonoma County. Likely the fruit has been exposed to smoke. Are there any measures one could employ to minimize the effects of smoke?
Should one try for less extraction, maybe some stem inclusion? Just making a little bit of wine in the garage. I figure there’s not much recourse but figured I’d ask.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#2 Post by Casey Hartlip »

David Kingsbury wrote: September 11th, 2020, 6:53 pm Hi, first post here. I find the annual weather thread to be an excellent source of knowledge and news. We will be picking a small amount of Pinot this weekend in Sonoma County. Likely the fruit has been exposed to smoke. Are there any measures one could employ to minimize the effects of smoke?
Should one try for less extraction, maybe some stem inclusion? Just making a little bit of wine in the garage. I figure there’s not much recourse but figured I’d ask.
I have a Pinot client saying he won't use any whole cluster for fear of smoke. That's all I got.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#3 Post by Joe B »

By more from the previous vintage?
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#4 Post by Michael Martin »

Make rose’. Less time on its skins.

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#5 Post by timmy roos »

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#6 Post by Sean Devaney »

Joe B wrote: September 11th, 2020, 7:38 pm By more from the previous vintage?
If you are making wine I don't think any grapes from the previous vintage are available neener

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#7 Post by Wes Barton »

Michael Martin wrote: September 11th, 2020, 7:54 pm Make rose’. Less time on its skins.
To play around and perhaps be safer, I'd go all out for a blanc.

I've heard leaves are particularly bad. Anecdotal (to me, as I haven't researched it), but totally makes sense, since that's where the smoke is absorbed. Stems would also make sense, as the delivery mechanism. Perhaps a little counter-intuitive, but destemming, especially with one of those standard very brutal destemmers sold for home winemaking, will tear up and release a lot more fluid from the stems than just pressing with them. The stems will help knuckle into the grapes and the grape skins will protect the stems from breaking up. Same principle for foot stomping. So, sort out every single leaf, give it a thorough foot stomp, them press immediately.

For bonus points, cold crash the juice right away, then rack off the solids that drop out. How depends on your equipment and volume. Maybe dry ice if you don't have a chiller of some sort or a fridge it'll all fit in.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#8 Post by Michael Martin »

The winery I work at in Western Colorado has potential for smoke taint from nearby fires. We pressed Merlot for rose’ a week or two ago. I just tried a sample from the tank. Still early in fermentation and there is no sign of smoke. The lab confirms it as well. We destemmed.

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#9 Post by David Kingsbury »

Thank you for all of your replies. We made rose’ from the same vineyard last weekend before things got really bad this week. Might try to “cold crash” with dry ice as Wes suggested. Really a shame as grapes and numbers were looking so good before the change in winds that started Wednesday.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#10 Post by Wes Barton »

David Kingsbury wrote: September 12th, 2020, 8:02 am Thank you for all of your replies. We made rose’ from the same vineyard last weekend before things got really bad this week. Might try to “cold crash” with dry ice as Wes suggested. Really a shame as grapes and numbers were looking so good before the change in winds that started Wednesday.
To be clear, that's with the pressed juice. A white wine technique that some employ.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#11 Post by Victor Hong »

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#12 Post by Sean Devaney »

I forecast more bourbon barrel aged wines from the 2020 vintage.

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#13 Post by BenjaminL »

Tom Collins:


Anita Oberholster, click on the link below.
https://wineserver.ucdavis.edu/multimed ... berholster

For any red grape cold soak/maceration- as you see your color extracting, your Volatile Phenols are extracting as well (timestamp 38:30 Anita)
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#14 Post by Eric Lundblad »

Sean Devaney wrote: September 11th, 2020, 9:49 pm
Joe B wrote: September 11th, 2020, 7:38 pm By more from the previous vintage?
If you are making wine I don't think any grapes from the previous vintage are available neener
I'd be worried that grapes from the prior vintage might be over ripe by now!
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#15 Post by David Kingsbury »

As a follow up we pressed the Pinot yesterday. Decided against taking any extreme measures. Wine tastes pretty good at this awkward stage as Malo had just started. Too early to know if it has been affected but am encouraged by yesterday’s sample.
Thanks to all who offered advice.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#16 Post by Roy Piper »

Not sure why, but post-ferment lab samples of taint from Cab on the floor are showing no more than you get in any other vintage. Not just for me, but everywhere and everyone I know. Cab seems to have less than Zin and other varietals. Also, press wine shows no difference than free run. None of this makes any sense. I have seen some big numbers in some of the mountains but that's all. Anyone else testing post-primary?
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#17 Post by Merrill Lindquist »

Going to. I have had the longest ferment in history, but things are still moving (down in sugar) with no increase in VA (mine is always low). The color is what you would expect from the Black Cat...just beautiful.
I tasted his morning and we are just about there. The taste, to me, is gorgeous, because I know what I am expecting at this stage. The winery's resident winemaker was grimacing (like he always does at this stage of the game). So I am going to say I am in very good shape for 2020, but will do the smoke taint test for everyone's reassurance.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#18 Post by Casey Hartlip »

My 2020 Pinot is a wreck. Smells and tastes great but like I said in the weather thread I blew the water add. It's now 15.5% alcohol but the sugar is still 2.1. All activity in the barrel has stopped and I'm not going to try to restart a single barrel nor heat the wine up. Will consult with some of my experienced friends and decide. For now will keep it topped and hope for the best.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#19 Post by Merrill Lindquist »

If the "activity" in the barrel has stopped, and you have that much sugar left, you are going to end up with a sweet Pinot. Why NOT try a restart?
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#20 Post by Scott G r u n e r »

Casey Hartlip wrote: November 17th, 2020, 2:59 pm My 2020 Pinot is a wreck. Smells and tastes great but like I said in the weather thread I blew the water add. It's now 15.5% alcohol but the sugar is still 2.1. All activity in the barrel has stopped and I'm not going to try to restart a single barrel nor heat the wine up. Will consult with some of my experienced friends and decide. For now will keep it topped and hope for the best.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#21 Post by Casey Hartlip »

Scott G r u n e r wrote: November 17th, 2020, 7:38 pm
Casey Hartlip wrote: November 17th, 2020, 2:59 pm My 2020 Pinot is a wreck. Smells and tastes great but like I said in the weather thread I blew the water add. It's now 15.5% alcohol but the sugar is still 2.1. All activity in the barrel has stopped and I'm not going to try to restart a single barrel nor heat the wine up. Will consult with some of my experienced friends and decide. For now will keep it topped and hope for the best.
Pinot Port?
It doesn't taste pruny or overripe it has lots of red fruits. Luckily it's 25 cases that I don't need to make a living on. Going to consult with some friends and make a plan.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#22 Post by Michael S. »

Roy Piper wrote: November 13th, 2020, 5:02 pm Not sure why, but post-ferment lab samples of taint from Cab on the floor are showing no more than you get in any other vintage. Not just for me, but everywhere and everyone I know. Cab seems to have less than Zin and other varietals. Also, press wine shows no difference than free run. None of this makes any sense. I have seen some big numbers in some of the mountains but that's all. Anyone else testing post-primary?
Roy, yes and my experience with 2020 Napa fruit (from all over the valley and hillsides) is similar to yours. Proximity to the fire and amount of time exposed to fresh smoke (smoke coming from an actively burning fire, not lingering in the air for multiple days after first developed or blows in from out of the area) have led to the highest smoke taint marker numbers from tests. Also the most easily perceptible smoke characteristics from a sensory perspective. There's also a big difference between varietals, even within the same vineyard and their smoke results.

Regarding free run vs. press, once you've been on skins in tank for any length of time you basically have a slurry. I'm not all that surprised that we're not seeing wildly differing results between the two.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#23 Post by Wes Barton »

Michael S. wrote: November 17th, 2020, 9:15 pmRegarding free run vs. press, once you've been on skins in tank for any length of time you basically have a slurry. I'm not all that surprised that we're not seeing wildly differing results between the two.
I heard about some roses being badly tainted.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#24 Post by GregP »

Wes Barton wrote: November 18th, 2020, 12:06 am
Michael S. wrote: November 17th, 2020, 9:15 pmRegarding free run vs. press, once you've been on skins in tank for any length of time you basically have a slurry. I'm not all that surprised that we're not seeing wildly differing results between the two.
I heard about some roses being badly tainted.
That simply can't be. All the reports lately claim there is no smoke taint in any vineyards, up and down the coast /s Slightly pregnant and all...
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#25 Post by Michael S. »

Wes Barton wrote: November 18th, 2020, 12:06 am
Michael S. wrote: November 17th, 2020, 9:15 pmRegarding free run vs. press, once you've been on skins in tank for any length of time you basically have a slurry. I'm not all that surprised that we're not seeing wildly differing results between the two.
I heard about some roses being badly tainted.


I understand this to be possible. It is dependent on severity of smoke taint in the fruit.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#26 Post by Michael S. »

GregP wrote: November 18th, 2020, 2:42 pm
Wes Barton wrote: November 18th, 2020, 12:06 am
Michael S. wrote: November 17th, 2020, 9:15 pmRegarding free run vs. press, once you've been on skins in tank for any length of time you basically have a slurry. I'm not all that surprised that we're not seeing wildly differing results between the two.

I heard about some roses being badly tainted.
That simply can't be. All the reports lately claim there is no smoke taint in any vineyards, up and down the coast /s Slightly pregnant and all...
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#27 Post by leslie renaud »

Michael S. wrote: November 17th, 2020, 9:15 pm
Roy Piper wrote: November 13th, 2020, 5:02 pm Not sure why, but post-ferment lab samples of taint from Cab on the floor are showing no more than you get in any other vintage. Not just for me, but everywhere and everyone I know. Cab seems to have less than Zin and other varietals. Also, press wine shows no difference than free run. None of this makes any sense. I have seen some big numbers in some of the mountains but that's all. Anyone else testing post-primary?
Roy, yes and my experience with 2020 Napa fruit (from all over the valley and hillsides) is similar to yours. Proximity to the fire and amount of time exposed to fresh smoke (smoke coming from an actively burning fire, not lingering in the air for multiple days after first developed or blows in from out of the area) have led to the highest smoke taint marker numbers from tests. Also the most easily perceptible smoke characteristics from a sensory perspective. There's also a big difference between varietals, even within the same vineyard and their smoke results.

Regarding free run vs. press, once you've been on skins in tank for any length of time you basically have a slurry. I'm not all that surprised that we're not seeing wildly differing results between the two.
I know that this is what people have been saying, but in our experience, this isn't true. Our smokiest lot was in Saratoga, really far from any fires, and only exposed to old smoke. You can smell the smoke just pouring the wine into a glass. We have some Napa cab that was really close to fires, that is totally clean. We had chardonnay in Dry Creek that a cinder literally fell out of the cluster when I sampled, and tested completely clean after a mini ferment on the skins.

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#28 Post by Michael S. »

leslie renaud wrote: November 19th, 2020, 3:37 pm
Michael S. wrote: November 17th, 2020, 9:15 pm
Roy Piper wrote: November 13th, 2020, 5:02 pm Not sure why, but post-ferment lab samples of taint from Cab on the floor are showing no more than you get in any other vintage. Not just for me, but everywhere and everyone I know. Cab seems to have less than Zin and other varietals. Also, press wine shows no difference than free run. None of this makes any sense. I have seen some big numbers in some of the mountains but that's all. Anyone else testing post-primary?
Roy, yes and my experience with 2020 Napa fruit (from all over the valley and hillsides) is similar to yours. Proximity to the fire and amount of time exposed to fresh smoke (smoke coming from an actively burning fire, not lingering in the air for multiple days after first developed or blows in from out of the area) have led to the highest smoke taint marker numbers from tests. Also the most easily perceptible smoke characteristics from a sensory perspective. There's also a big difference between varietals, even within the same vineyard and their smoke results.

Regarding free run vs. press, once you've been on skins in tank for any length of time you basically have a slurry. I'm not all that surprised that we're not seeing wildly differing results between the two.
I know that this is what people have been saying, but in our experience, this isn't true. Our smokiest lot was in Saratoga, really far from any fires, and only exposed to old smoke. You can smell the smoke just pouring the wine into a glass. We have some Napa cab that was really close to fires, that is totally clean. We had chardonnay in Dry Creek that a cinder literally fell out of the cluster when I sampled, and tested completely clean after a mini ferment on the skins.
Leslie, very interesting results that you're seeing. I'm super curious about why that is. Without knowing much about your specific vineyard locations or relevant smoke exposure I couldn't even wager as to why your results have been what they are.

My first hand experience from 2008, 2017, 2018 and now 2020 all point to sensory and/or lab analysis that show proximity to fires as most impactful and length of exposure to fresh smoke as leading to the highest results of smoke taint (both sensory and lab analysis of volatile phenol markers). I am mainly working with red varietals, mostly Bordeaux, so can't comment on Chardonnay.

Feel free to DM me if you want to discuss more. This is likely our new normal here in CA and I'm all for sharing information.

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#29 Post by leslie renaud »

I will happily post results from AWRI once we receive the final numbers next week after they're out of lockdown.

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#30 Post by Wes Barton »

I can think of potential reasons some Saratoga sites could've been tainted. The most plausible would be topographical. There were fires up along the summit. A channel leading down to the site could protect the densest smoke from dilution, greatly countering much of the time it took to get there. Also, if some or all of a vineyard are in a bowl, or even if there's a barely lower undrained section (some of these are difficult to perceive walking a site), you could get a pooling effect. where the denser airborne particulates concentrate. The taint in an area like that could potentially be several times that of a site the smoke passed through getting there. You see the pooling effect with frost damage to grapes and other crops, where the densest (coldest) air gets trapped. LANDSAT imaging helped solve the mystery of this agricultural phenomenon.
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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#31 Post by Drew Goin »

The "Research Results" page of the American Vineyard Foundation website has several studies linked to preventing, detecting, and treating smoke taint...


AVF website: "Smoke Taint" Research Results


AVF website: ALL Research Results

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#32 Post by Samuel Dearden »

Sorry, realize this was months ago but: minimize skin contact as much as possible, consider adding a fining agent (activated charcoal), reverse osmosis (expensive) are all options. Similarly, there are certain yeast strains that will bring out naturally fruity characteristics in some wines, masking the smokiness. All this being said, nothing is actually proven, and smoke taint can seemingly return at any time.

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Re: Remedies for Smoke Taint?

#33 Post by PeterH »

In his 2020 vintage report, Ken Wright mentions ozone treatment. We have used ozone at our factory to treat smoke reside after a fire at an adjacent commercial building.
It is amazingly effective, but ozone is a powerful oxidizer. It is used as an alternative to bleach for sanitation, and has the potential for similar degradation of organic compounds other than the ones you wish to target.
Any winemakers here have any experience with ozone?
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