WASHINGTON — Wildfires are devastating California’s wine country, and as people there wait and try to regroup, wine experts say there’s no denying there will be an impact on the industry — and perhaps the flavor of certain wines consumers buy.
It was an early harvest in Sonoma and Napa counties, which is both good and bad depending on the winery.
“We had an early season — a dry, hot season — and the wine was already in the wineries. Those are gone. The 2017 harvest for a lot of places are already gone,” said WTOP wine columnist Scott Greenberg.
Nonprofit trade association Napa Valley Vinters says 20 wineries, as of Oct. 16, are affected, and while most wine retailers and restaurants buy their vino months in advance, eventually it could mean an uptick in prices with a lower than average production year.
“And many of these wineries had their 2016 and in some cases 2015 bottles in their wineries when they went up in flames,” Greenberg said, though he doesn’t think it will have a significant impact on the price of wine in the future.
There is also the possibility that certain wines will take on a smoky flavor due to the fires. The trade association writes that 90 percent of the harvest is in, but the grapes still on the vine are almost entirely cabernet sauvignon.
“Wineries able to assemble crews and safely get to their vineyards are continuing to harvest grapes. We anticipate all remaining grapes will be picked in the next week to 10 days,” the trade association said.
“Going forward it’ll be interesting. There will be a smoky flavor, no pun intended. Because it can infuse … the flavor into the wine. So, were just going to have to wait and see,” Greenberg said.