APPLEGATE VALLEY, Ore. — Local vineyards say all of that smoke we’ve seen may spell success. In the past, vineyards have even branded their wines after fires in the area.
Smoke has been pouring into the Applegate Valley at sometimes hazardous levels. The smoke is impacting the wine industry, forcing at least one wine tour company to cancel its weekend tours.
“I didn’t think it would be healthy, to take people out in the smoke and have them breathing it in, and they wouldn’t have a good experience,” said Jodi Bittick, with the Wonders of Wine.
The forest fire smoke is also changing the way vineyards do business, with workers wearing masks. The smoke is visible in the air, and that smoke is forcing Troon Vineyard to cancel the outdoor part of its anniversary event, but they say it’s not all sour grapes. The silver lining comes from the same thing causing the hazy skyline: smoke.
“The smoke is acting like a blanket, letting them be warm at night, and during the day it’s moderating the temperatures so they’re less stressed,” said Brian Gruber, the Vineyard Manager at Troon Vineyard.
The vineyard manager says it’s actually helping the ripening process.
“Grapes will absorb smoke through their skin,” explained Gruber. “Think about: if you’ve got smoke on yourself in the last few weeks, it doesn’t come off with water you’ve got to use soap or take a shower.”
For Troon, the past has shown…where there’s smoke, there’s success.
“It’s probably the most expensive wine we’ve ever made, a little smoke may make the wine incredibly interesting,” said Gruber.
Back in 2002, Troon branded its wine as the “Biscuit Fire Reserve”. If it were on sale, estimates say collectors would have to pay up to 700 dollars for a bottle.
It’s being considered a blessing and a curse. The curse, too much of a good thing, vintners are hoping the intense smoke won’t stick around as the grapes ripen and take in more smoke. For now…it’s smoke you can toast to.
Troon Vineyard has fire reserve wines based on several fires. 10% of sales go to the Applegate Fire District.
Troon Vineyard did have to cancel their ZIN & BBQ BASH scheduled for Saturday, August 3rd, due to the smoke. They will, however, have some anniversary treats featured indoors in their Applegate Tasting Room. They’re open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.