Recently I had a winemaker friend ring to discuss this year as being a good candidate for ATA and asked if there was much we could test for to predict this.
The New Zealand company has been subcontracted by ETS Laboratories - the largest independent wine lab in the US - to test samples from American growers potentially impacted by the fires across millions of acres in California, Oregon, and Washington, which are the main grape growing regions in the country.
Only a fraction of the affected area is planted in wine grapes, and every location is different, says ETS Chief Executive and owner Gordon Burns. “Smoke exposure may be transitory and as little as none at all. Any fire impacts will certainly not be to the entire vintage in any of the affected winegrowing regions,” he says. “It is far too early for anyone to speculate as to the extent of impact in areas where smoke was persistent.”
However, in “an abundance of caution”, many growers and wineries are requesting smoke impact testing in grapes and wine, he says. Hill Labs has a long-standing collaborative relationship with ETS Laboratories, and received significant numbers of subcontracted samples from them over recent weeks.
Dr Jonno Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Hill Laboratories, says it feels good to support an industry in such dire need. “Our thoughts are with those individuals and businesses in California, Oregon, and Washington who have been impacted by the devastating fires.” He says the Hill team “worked well with the team at ETS, as both companies have high quality standards and very experienced scientists working with state-of-the-art technology”.
Jonno says the ETS team have worked through substantial challenges as the September Glass wildfire in Northern California impacted their laboratory operations in the Napa Valley, as well as their homes, “and it is fortunate that we were in a position to be able to offer them our support”