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UC Davis and CDFA collaborate to assist commercial laboratories testing smoke impact in wine and winegrapes

by press release
October 05, 2020


The UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, in partnership with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Analytical Laboratory, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), are offering laboratory services, with limited capacity, to test wine and winegrapes for the presence of smoke compounds due to recent wildfires.  In addition to commercial laboratories already performing tests, these laboratories are offering limited services to hopefully reduce testing turnaround times.

“We are hearing many growers and grower representatives voice concern over lab turnaround time, as lab results are needed to make a decision about harvesting their winegrapes or to assess the resulting wines,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “To answer a need in our world-renown California wine industry, CDFA is proud to partner with UC Davis to offer the resources of our laboratories.”

"The wine and grape industries of California are important to the state and to our college,” said Helene Dillard, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. “The wildfires this year have been particularly devastating, so we are very happy to be partnering with the CDFA to apply our collective resources to this important issue.”

“Our staff members are working diligently to meet the laboratory needs of the wine and winegrape industries resulting from the unprecedented number of wildfires on the west coast,” said Gordon Burns, CEO of ETS Laboratories. “We appreciate the partnership of CDFA and UC Davis as we work together to answer industry needs.”

The UC Davis laboratories are teaming-up to provide wine analysis.  Testing capacity is limited, with a turnaround time of 3-5 days, as long as a backlog does not occur.  We will be working to increase capacity as needed.

CDFA’s Center for Analytical Chemistry (CAC) is offering grape analysis. CDFA’s limited testing capacity is estimated to be 30-50 samples per day, with a turnaround time of 3-5 days, as long as a backlog does not occur. If a backlog does occur and the turnaround time will be longer, CDFA will provide that information on its website. 

While the analytical methods of the UC Davis and CDFA labs have been validated and are accurate, the methods are not ISO 17025 (International Organization for Standardization) accredited. Therefore, wineries and grape growers should verify with insurance providers and/or legal counsel that the results will be acceptable for their intended purposes before submitting samples. The laboratories will measure seven smoke-related compounds (guaiacol, 4-methylguaiacol, o-cresol, p-cresol, m-cresol, syringol, and 4-methylsyringol).  Please note: the assays do NOT measure bound (non-volatile) phenols that can later hydrolyze to their volatile form. To measure bound phenols, samples should be submitted to ETS Laboratories or other providers for HPLC MS/MS QQQ analysis, as and when appropriate.

To submit wine samples, visit the UC Davis CA&ES Analytical Laboratory website for more information. Price per wine sample is $150.

To submit grape samples, visit the CDFA laboratory website for sample submission instructions, or contact CDFA at or (916) 228-6844. Price per grape sample is $246.

Please visit the UC Davis Wildfire and Smoke Exposure Resources page for more information on grape sampling, small-scale fermentations, FAQs, and other providers of smoke impact analysis.



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