Hill fires in many parts of the United States have reached wineries.
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At Hansen Winery in Oregon"s Willamette Valley, gray and drizzly weather has persisted for days. According to winery owner John Hansen, the winery's grape production is expected to be only 5 tons this year, which is at least 20 tons less than last year, due to the excessive smoke in the air affecting the grape growth.
Not only will yields be reduced, but the taste of the grapes will be greatly reduced and the quality of the wine will be difficult to guarantee. Hansen says the damage caused by the soot may be irreversible. He is preparing to make wine, but the density of soot in the past few weeks is alarming, and he is doubtful that he will be able to successfully bottle.
In previous years, wineries would send samples of their grapes to a local lab for taste testing a week before harvest to determine if the picking was ripe. Today, many wineries are having to send their grapes for testing early to determine the effect of soot on the taste of the grapes.
Industry sources expect that because of concerns that the new grapes alone will make the finished wine too smoky, major wineries may adopt the old bottle-for-new wine approach, adding new grapes to last year's tanked wine to maximize the ability to mask the innate deficiencies of the raw material. Hansen said the winery will return to its original appearance, but only if it waits for the smoke to clear.