Soil & Land

Charles Sturt’s small-scale winemaking to assess smoke taint

Leigh Schmidtke

The National Wine and Grape Industry Centre is working with grower groups to make wine from samples of grapes from vineyards exposed to smoke.

  • Charles Sturt University is making wine from samples of grapes exposed to bushfire smoke to help growers and winemakers make decisions this vintage.
  • Growers can conduct sensory assessment of this wine to gauge the potential risk for smoke taint to develop.
  • Grape grower associations are coordinating the referral of samples to the Charles Sturt Winery.

Charles Sturt University and the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) are making facilities and expertise available to help grape growers understand the potential impact of bushfire smoke on their vintage.

NWGIC Director Professor Leigh Schmidtke (pictured) said the Centre is working with grower groups to make wine from samples of grapes from vineyards exposed to smoke.

“When vineyards and grapes are exposed to smoke it sometimes results in wines with undesirable sensory characters,” Professor Schmidtke said.

“The impact of ‘smoke taint’ depends on a number of factors including the growth stage of the vine and grape maturity, variety, how long the grapes are exposed, and proximity to the source of the smoke.

“Conducting a small-scale ferment of potentially affected grapes allows wineries to undertake a sensory assessment of the wine to gauge the potential risk for smoke taint to develop.

“This, along with analytical testing of grapes provided through commercial laboratories, will give grape growers and wineries information to make decisions ahead of harvest.”

Local grower groups are coordinating the referral of samples to the Charles Sturt Winery.

“We are pleased to be able to support growers and winemakers by providing our expertise and facilities,” Professor Schmidtke said.

“Bushfires have directly impacted some vineyards, and tourism has been affected in many other wine regions.

“One way we can all help is to continue to visit these regions, buy local wine and support our growers and winemakers.”

Wine grape growers who would like samples fermented should contact their local grower association or the Charles Sturt winemaker Johnny Clark by email johclark@csu.edu.au.

The NWGIC is an alliance between Charles Sturt, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the NSW Wine Industry Association.

Source: CSU