Exploring and Understanding Wildfire Impacts on Winemaking and Wine

With wildfires across the western U.S. growing in size, prominence and frequency during the growing season, the resulting smoke has become a critical concern for an increasing number of winegrowers in Oregon. The absorption and translocation of smoke-related compounds into grapes can result in wines that are unacceptably smoky in flavor. With a fairly limited volume of historical information on both the scientific and practical understanding of smoke-impacted wine, researchers, winemakers and laboratory service providers are working assiduously to determine the best methods of measuring these smoke-related compounds, learning what effective tools are available, and developing systems to make decisions that result in the best wines possible.
Professor Tom Collins, Ph.D., of Washington State University will present his research on the impact of smoke and provide a review of the subject. Jasha Karasek of Enartis will describe their methods for analysis and the protocols they are developing to mitigate smoke taint. Nichole Schulte, associate winemaker at Quady North and Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft will discuss hard-fought battles with smoke impact over multiple vintages. This session will include a tasting of winery trials examining methods to decrease the influence of smoke in wines made from smoke-affected grapes.

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Speaker Bios

Jasha Karasek currently works in the technical department for Enartis USA as their winemaking specialist. A graduate of enology and viticulture from the University of California, Davis, Jasha utilizes his production and lab experience to host educational webinars on topics such as wine stabilization, sensory improvement and product application. His work in the wine industry focuses on analysis and winemaking techniques for quality improvement.
A native of Tacoma, Washington, Vince Vidrine studied enology and viticulture at Oregon State University. After completing his degree, he worked multiple vintages around the world before returning to Oregon to focus on Pinot noir and Chardonnay. After working with and learning from the winemaking teams at Brittan Vineyards and Domaine Serene Winery, Vince moved south to Ashland, Oregon, where he is now proud to be producing wines from the unique soils and climate of the Rogue Valley for Irvine & Roberts Vineyards.
Dr. Thomas Collins has been an assistant professor of grape and wine chemistry in the Viticulture and Enology Program at Washington State University since 2015. He manages a research program in grape, wine and spirits aroma and flavor chemistry and teaches courses in grape and wine chemistry and winery operations. Prior to joining WSU, Dr. Collins was the director of research for the Food Safety and Measurement Facility at UC Davis and also worked in the wine industry in New York and California for more than 15 years. He received his Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental chemistry from UC Davis in 2012. He also currently serves as the secretary/treasurer for the American Society for Enology and Viticulture.
Nichole Schulte is associate winemaker and partner of Quady North Winery and Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft, a custom crush house in Medford, Oregon specializing in high-end, small lot production. Nichole oversees all enological, technical and quality control aspects of winemaking, including a wide variety of still, sparkling, organic, canned and alternatively packaged wines. Barrel 42 works with diverse fruit sources from vineyards throughout Oregon to produce more than 70 labels per vintage.

Also a practicing attorney, Nichole studied wine law while attending Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 in Lyon, France, where she gained a deep appreciation for all aspects of the wine industry.

Cheney Vidrine began his career as a scientist in the wood products industry, but then took cues from his identical twin brother and jumped head-first into wine production. After chasing harvests in New Zealand, Australia, France and numerous Oregon vintages, Cheney found himself at the rapidly growing Union Wine Company. Now the associate winemaker, he plays a significant role in an organization that relishes crafting wines that diverge from what our industry considers “normal.” Union Wine Company has been able to bring innovation to an industry that has historically found it hard to innovate by spearheading the canned wine movement with its much-loved brand, Underwood, as well as contributing to the growing market of packaged wine cocktails and coolers.

More Resources from the Session

Download Slide Presentation– Jasha Karasek

Download Slide Presentation– Cheney Vidrine

Download Slide Presentation– Nichole Schulte