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Smoke Exposure Resources and a Zoom Question and Answer Session

Dr. Anita Oberholster runs through the Small-Scale Fermentation Protocol


We received the following from the The UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology - editor 


from Karen L Block 

Dear All:

The UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology would like to provide as much useful information as possible about the potential risk of smoke impact, from recent events on the West Coast, to grape growers and winemakers.  To that end, we are providing the following resources:

The West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force Grape Sampling protocol: WCSETF Grape Sampling Protocol

The WCSETF Small-Scale Fermentation Protocol:  WCSETF Small-Scale Fermentation Protocol

A Video of Dr. Anita Oberholster (UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in Enology) processing 10 lbs. of grapes (~3.3L of juice) through the Small-Scale Fermentation Protocol, explaining the process step-by-step
(How to do small-scale fermentations for the evaluation of grape smoke exposure risk).

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet that will be updated on a regular basis:  
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet

A Zoom link to an upcoming “Office Hours with Dave and Anita” on Tuesday, September 15, from 2-3 pm, where Dr. Oberholster will be available to answer your questions regarding the information provided above. The link is provided here. If you want to ask questions at the Zoom Meeting you can do so three different ways:  you can email and your question will be read/answered, you can ask it live by raising your hand or unmuting yourself, or you can type it in the chat and either send it to everyone or specifically to Karen Block.

For those of you who have emailed questions to Dr. Oberholster, she is trying to get back to you all as soon as possible. An overwhelming number of questions have come in and she is currently unable to get to them all as quickly as she would like, as she too is in the middle of harvest.  Some of the projects currently being harvested are smoke exposure experiments that will hopefully provide answers to questions for which we do not currently have answers. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions link to see if your question has been answered in that document. In addition, you can attend the Office Hours Q&A on Tuesday (Item # 5 above), during which we will answer as many questions as possible. Please refer to the paragraph above for details on how to ask a question during that session. 

How smoke compounds interact with grapes in the vineyard and the potential risks for smoke damaged grapes and their effects on wine quality are not well understood. Laboratory analysis of smoke exposed grapes can reveal useful information, but often such analysis alone is insufficient to reliably predict the risk of smoke affected wines. Consequently, researchers recommend the use of laboratory analysis and sensory analysis of wine made from a small-scale fermentation of smoke exposed grapes.

Fermenting a grape field sample is one of the best tools currently available to predict smoke exposure markers (both free and bound volatile phenols) that may be present in a wine post-fermentation. A winemaker or grape grower can use the finished small-scale fermentation to evaluate the presence of off-aromas and ashy flavors (through sensory evaluation) and should also submit a wine sample to a certified laboratory for volatile phenol and glycoside analysis to understand the potential risk of smoke damage.

If you have questions about any portion of the above information, please email


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