California wildfires threaten regional grape, wine production

As firefighters and first responders work to save lives and property impacted by the Northern California wildfires, Cornell University Associate Professor of Enology Anna Katharine Mansfield, whose field work and research includes the chemistry of wine aroma and flavor, warns that these fires will have long-term impacts on the region’s vineyards and wine production.


Mansfield says:

“A vineyard usually takes three to five years to produce fruit, so it will be at least that long for burned areas to come back into production, on top of whatever time it takes to clean up and prepare acreage for replanting.

“In vineyards that survive the fire but have not yet been harvested, smoke taint is a potential problem. Compounds from smoke can be absorbed by the grapes and vines and produce unpleasant aromas later in the finished wine. There are a few wine production methods that can lessen the impact of these aromas, but they generally can’t be completely removed.”