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May 30, 2022 View:

Napa Valley's Hoppes Winery Makes Brandy from Smoked Grapes

Fires are once again sweeping through California in 2020, and for winemakers, this year's fires have left many grapes vulnerable to smoky contamination, which will give the wines an unwanted smoky character.

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Vineyards often have to take part of the harvest as a loss if the smoke is severe, but the upcoming spirits at Napa Valley"s Hoopes Vineyard may offer an alternative solution: smoky brandy.

In 2017, Hoopes Winery was one of many wineries affected by the Wine Country fires that year.Hoopes explained that the vines were incinerated and the remaining grapes were covered in soot. Such grapes could not be used to make wine, and with the insurance industry unwilling to help, this left the winery seemingly having suffered a financial loss. But where smoky flavors may not apply to traditional wines, what about aged spirits like brandy?

To find a better solution, winery owner Lindsay Hoopes worked with Distiller and MarianneBarnes Master of Wine to distill smoky wines into a brandy with an incredible backdrop. says Lindsay Hoopes: We can make something beautiful out of tragedy, or lose everything. Literally, we chose to rise from the ashes and explore the spirit of the grape's rebirth. Nature is the master of innovation, and we draw inspiration from it. Responding to crisis with resilience, we found opportunity. I think you can make something interesting with smoke and grapes. They are two of my favorite flavors.