Monday, 21 September 2015

Will Wildfires Damage California’s Wine Industry?

As the California wildfires rage on, gigantic flames have already destroyed wide swathes of the Golden State. This has forced the Ideal Wine Company to ask; will wildfires damage California’s wine industry? 

Golden state wine making  

California boasts the most prominent wine making sector in the United States, known the world over for producing quality vintages. Today famous California regions such as Napa Valley and Sonoma County produce some of the globe’s most sought after wine, made from high-quality grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot.  

California now comprises almost 90% of the US’s total wine production, and recent statistics show that there’s no sign it’ll slow down anytime soon. Data quoted by The Drinks Business indicates that the region enjoyed record grape harvests in 2012, 2013 and 2014, yet some experts believe that the wildfires that have recently hit the Golden State could damage California’s 2015 grape harvest.  

Assessing the damage  

According to CBS News, at the time of writing the fire has burned across 67,000 acres of California countryside; mostly in Lake County, but also in Sonoma and Napa Counties. It has destroyed a variety of wineries in the region, such as Shed Horn Cellars in Middletown, Lake County.  

It’s hard to assess the damage just yet, according to Jacque Lynn Johnson, district director of the California Farm Service Agency. She said "we don't know how many acres have been burned, nor do we know if there has been smoke penetration to the remaining fruit, affecting its quality.” Johnson added, "due to evacuation orders, many growers have not been able to visit their ranches to assess what damage, if any, has occurred." 

Smoke taint 

Johnson raised the issue of smoke taint, and some experts are really concerned about it. Andrea Smalling, chief marketing officer of Foley Family Wines in Middletown, which was damaged by the fire, was one. Smalling commented that "it's likely that we won't be able to harvest the remaining grapes due to smoke damage, but our winemaker is doing some lab work to confirm.” 

However the California Wine Institute has expressed confidence that the majority of wineries that lie within the fires path may yet avoid the scourge of smoke taint. They explained: “The smoke has not lingered in the vineyards because of winds and many grapes are already picked because of the abnormally early harvest. Smoke taint impacts grapes that are in a growing stage of rapid expansion, (but) the grapes are well advanced at this point.” 

Try California wine 

It’s hard to assess the impact of the California wildfires, but it appears as though they will inflict at least some damage on the region’s booming wine industry. If you want to see why people want the Golden States’ wine industry to pull through, try the Ideal Wine Company’s California wines today.