CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 15 Classics - Page 27

I thought of our ferments like a pitcher of juice in the fridge if left open , within a few days it ’ ll still be drinkable , but eventually , they might soak-up that jar of pickles that your husband said he put away but just drunkenly shoved to the back near that old box of baking soda . “ Wrap it up ” is what my HS guidance counselor always said , so I took that sage advice to heart .
So , what about the fruit hanging on the vine you ask ? Well , good question you precocious little scamp . For this , I ’ ve had to use thinking a bit more complex than , “ No Glove , No love .” In essence , the compounds that worry us about “ smoke taint ” ( guaiacol *) have been shown predominantly in vineyards where leaf uptake has had time to distribute these compounds to the berry inner membrane , i . e ., early season fires where active photosynthesis and berry development are both occurring at the same time . That is not right now in Napa / Sonoma / Mendocino / or Lake Counties where these fires have been taking place . So , that means we ’ re safe , right ? As the great Lee Corso would say , “ Not so fast my friend !” The amount of ash and smoke produced by these fires was something on a different level , and grape samples were taken in to different labs during the days / weeks after the fires have shown levels of both free and bound Guaiacol , so the plan becomes , how do we keep those levels below sensory thresholds , and that ’ s where the proactive nature from the vineyard to the winery has been on a scale that would be difficult to recreate . Lab analyses being done from places working off generators , vineyards running spray rigs on ATV ’ s to knock off any ash , wineries rinsing grapes in ozonated water and then shaking dry on sorting tables . The attention to detail is that of a 36-year-old man scanning a scrabble board after a 3-game losing streak … NOTHING GETS MISSED THIS TIME .
But will all of this work ?! “ We hope so ,” is the only answer we can give at this time . At the time of the fires , the wine regions throughout the area had picked anywhere from 75-100 % of the grapes planted , with most places being “ picked out ” in the range of 90 % -ish . The grapes that were picked before the fires should be stellar , any wine put down to barrel has very little ( I ’ d say zero but to be safe ) chance of any increase in the Guaicol compound , and I ’ ve seen firsthand that wine in tank if closed up was able to stay protected ( this is not PR spin , this is fact ). As for the grapes picked after the fires we ’ re still in a bit of wait in see mode , Guaicol has shown that it will increase post primary fermentation ( sugar being converted to alcohol ) and the sensory perception is quite difficult at this stage . As I ’ ve noted , we can test for the Guaicol , but the threshold for sensory perception is a bit ‘ hazy ’ at this point … But in all seriousness , certain wines and varietals have a strong ability to absorb these aromatic compounds and add to the complexity of the wine , but at this point , it ’ s just too early to make any definitive statement , call me in January when they ’ ve had some time to sit in barrels . But this is clearly not the time to pan the vintage , as lost or not salvageable because that ’ s just not the case .
So where do we find ourselves now , as a community , just a short couple of weeks later ( as I write this )? Parts of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County look like they ’ ve been bombed out … Not hyperbole , square blocks that look like WWII ruins that I ’ ve only seen in Ken Burns documentaries . A mile from where I live in downtown Napa I saw homes first hand that had nothing more left than maybe a twisted bed frame and a car port . For the entire week after the first night , we were all glued to the TV and social media as a new fire popped up , or 3 fires became one . I spent three days seeing one fire ( that was joined by two others ) converge in all directions around my Father ’ s home ( Near Oakmont / Kenwood , CA if you care to follow at home ) not knowing what he ’ d go back to .
But after all of that , as we literally and metaphorically now rise from the ashes I ’ m filled with such a strong sense of community and pride in seeing the true resiliency from this region . I ’ ll be honest ; I ’ m worried about this wine vintage like every single person that works or is connected to this industry . So many countless friends and family that have made this region home depend on the wines from out here to be , not just good every year , but great . With that said , after seeing first responders risking their lives to evacuate and protect , networks of people connecting with one another to make sure they were safe and the people they knew were safe , volunteers in numbers so great that they were turned away and then said fuck you Red Cross I ’ m going to help anyway ( I don ’ t say this as an FU to the Red Cross , but there ’ s something there ), donations to the point where no more donations could be accepted , and evacuees that I knew had nothing to go back to but were helping others they felt in MORE need . I came away knowing that no matter what , we ’ ll bounce back , it ’ s what we do . The human spirit is something to behold .
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I thought of our ferments like a pitcher of juice in the fridge if left open, within a few days it’ll still be drinkable, but eventually, they might soak-up that jar of pickles that your husband said he put away but just drunkenly shoved to the back near that old box of baking soda. “Wrap it up” is what my HS guidance counselor always said, so I took that sage advice to heart. So, what about the fruit hanging on the vine you ask? Well, good question you precocious little scamp. For this, I’ve had to use thinking a bit more complex than, “No Glove, No love.” In essence, the compounds that worry us about “smoke taint” (guaiacol*) have been shown predominantly in vine- yards where leaf uptake has had time to distribute these compounds to the berry inner membrane, i.e., early season fires where active photosynthesis and berry development are both occurring at the same time. That is not right now in Napa/Sonoma/ Mendocino/or Lake Counties where these fires have been taking place. So, that means we’re safe, right? As the great Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend!” The amount of ash and smoke pro- duced by these fires was something on a different level, and grape samples were taken in to different labs during the days/weeks after the fires have shown levels of both free and bound Guaiacol, so the plan becomes, how do we keep those levels be- low sensory thresholds, and that’s where the pro- active nature from the vineyard to the winery has been on a scale that would be difficult to recreate. Lab analyses being done from places working off generators, vineyards running spray rigs on ATV’s to knock off any ash, wineries rinsing grapes in ozo- nated water and then shaking dry on sorting tables. The attention to detail is that of a 36-year-old man scanning a scrabble board after a 3-game losing streak… NOTHING GETS MISSED THIS TIME. But will all of this work?! “We hope so,” is the only answer we can give at this time. At the time of the fires, the wine regions throughout the area had picked anywhere from 75-100% of the grapes planted, with most places being “picked out” in the range of 90%-ish. The grapes that were picked be- fore the fires should be stellar, any wine put down to barrel has very little (I’d say zero but to be safe) chance of any increase in the Guaicol compound, and I’ve seen firsthand that wine in tank if closed up was able to stay protected (this is not PR spin, this is fact). As for the grapes picked after the fires we’re still in a bit of wait in see mode, Guaicol has shown that it will increase post primary fermen- tation (sugar being converted to alcohol) and the sensory perception is quite difficult at this stage. As I’ve noted, we can test for the Guaicol, but the threshold for sensory perception is a bit ‘hazy’ at this point … But in all seriousness, certain wines and varietals have a strong ability to absorb these aromatic compounds and add to the complexity of the wine, but at this point, it’s just too early to make any definitive statement, call me in January when they’ve had some time to sit in barrels. But this is clearly not the time to pan the vintage, as lost or not salvageable because that’s just not the case. So where do we find ourselves now, as a commu- nity, just a short couple of weeks later (as I write this)? Parts of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County look like they’ve been bombed out … Not hyperbo- le, square blocks that look like WWII ruins that I’ve only seen in Ken Burns documentaries. A mile from where I live in downtown Napa I saw homes first hand that had nothing more left than maybe a twisted bed frame and a car port. For the entire week after the first night, we were all glued to the TV and social media as a new fire popped up, or 3 fires became one. I spent three days seeing one fire (that was joined by two others) converge in all di- rections around my Father’s home (Near Oakmont/ Kenwood, CA if you care to follow at home) not knowing what he’d go back to. But after all of that, as w H]\[H[Y]\܋BX[H\HHH\\x&[H[Y]XHۙ[Hو[][]H[YH[YZ[HYH\[Y[HH\Y[ۋx&[Hۙ\’x&[HܜYYX]\[H[YHZH]\H[B\ۈ]ܚ܈\ۛXY\[\KX[H[\Y[[[Z[H]]BXYH\Y[ۈYH\[ۈH[\B]\HK\]\HYX\]ܙX] ]]ZY Y\YZ[\\ۙ\\B[Z\]\]XX]H[X ]ܚ›و[HۛX[]ۙH[\XZB\H^H\HYH[H[H^Hۙ]\BYK[Y\[\ܙX]]^H\B\Y]^H[[ZYX[HYܛx&[B[[[]^H H۸&]^H\\[HHYܛ]\x&\Y][\JKۘKB[ۜH[\H[ܙHۘ][ۜ[HX\Y []XYY\]Hۙ]Y[X]\H[[\^H[[SԑHYY H[YH]^Hۛ[]X]\] x&[[HX]8&\]HˈHKBX[\]\Y][Z H[Y ]SۙH Mˈ[Y\\Y