Smoke & Vineyards
What is 'smoke taint'?
When vineyards are exposed to enough smoke, the grapes absorb this from the atmosphere. This can result in wines with undesirable sensory characters that are described as 'smoke tainted'. These smoke-affected (stinky!) wines are undrinkable and cannot be sold.
How does it occur?
In a similar fashion to the way that the smell of smoke gets trapped in clothing, it permeates the thin skin of grapes. Volatile phenols are the aroma compounds produced by fire and they enter directly through the skin of the berry. Not all smoke leads to 'smoke taint' but the risks increase with smoke density, exposure time and proximity to the fire.
If you are planning on lighting a fire on your property, please consider vineyards which are nearby or downwind and which may be impacted - consult with local vineyards well in advance of burning to discuss the potential risks and timing to minimise negative impacts on neighbouring vineyards. A short postponement of a fire may be all that's needed to avoid damage to nearby vineyards.