• How is the smoke affecting wine production in Walla Walla?

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    Q: How is the smoke affecting wine production in Walla Walla?

    A: We asked Brian Rudin, winemaker for Canvasback in Walla Walla, about the smoke that lingered Monday and Tuesday in Eastern Washington and how that may affect the final product.

    Canvasback plans to harvest their grapes later this month.

    Rudin said he’s not yet worried about smoke taint on their grapes -- and there’s rain in the forecast for Friday, which is a good sign all around.

    “The worst time for smoke taint is the middle of August when the grapes turn from green to red and are the most vulnerable,” he said. “We’re outside that window – and we have a really good looking crop this year.”

    Scroll down to see additional information about local wines.


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    In cases where smoke taint does become an issue, winemakers can use carbon to try and remove it or can attempt it to mask it with oak barrels.

    In 2008, smoke filled the Anderson Valley in California for weeks in the second half of summer and the smoke-taint was noticeable on the Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, another wine made by Duckhorn Wine Company.

    “There was much less wine produced, but some people kept coming back and asking for the ’08 because they liked the taste of the smoke.”

    Rudin said Washington wildfire smoke earlier this year was higher in the atmosphere. The smoke Monday and Tuesday in Walla Walla was much closer to the grapes and more noticeable.

    “It’s only been smoky out for about 24 hours,” Rudin said. If it were like this for two weeks, we’d be much more concerned. Right now our biggest concern is for all the people in the Northwest whose homes are in danger. An event like this focuses you back on what matters most.”

    Brian Rudin, winemaker for Canvasback in Walla Walla.
    Brian Rudin, winemaker for Canvasback in Walla Walla.
    Canvasback photo

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