Winemaker Trials and Approaches to Mitigating Smoke Impact

2020 saw unprecedented wildfire impacts to the vintage in both the northern and southern hemispheres. It is widely understood that wine grape vineyards exposed to fresh wildfire smoke can result in the loss of grape quality and render crops unsuitable for fine wine production. However, too often growers, winemakers and managers lack the knowledge and tools needed to make timely, informed decisions about the status of wine grapes exposed to smoke and how to prevent or mitigate damage when smoke events occur. The lack of science-based information and effective tools leads to uncertainty and the potential for greater losses than should otherwise occur.

An international panel of winemakers will present their methods and insights on how to manage expectations, grower relations and best practices for assessing wine production during smoke events and into the cellar post-fermentation.

View the Session Recording

Speaker Bios

Even as a child in Texas, Anthony King dreamed of living as a science nerd among the hipsters and fir trees of the Northwest. He made it, finally, after a circuitous path leading from textbooks to UC Davis and seven years at Acacia Winery in Napa. Finally here, Lemelson Vineyards held his attention and focus for eight years before he started his own consulting company. Aside from consulting as general manager at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, Anthony’s specialty appears to be making wine for some of the smallest producers in the Willamette Valley, including his wildly successful but almost entirely unknown brand, Ratio Wines.
A California native, Marla grew up in the Tehachapi Mountains, which separate the Southern California high desert and the rich agricultural lands of the Central Valley. It was growing up exploring the outdoors that lay the foundation for her interest in viticulture that ultimately shape its expression in the wine. After obtaining her degree from the University of California at Davis, Marla’s first foray into wine production was as a harvest lab intern at Charles Krug. After falling in love with wine production she began working at Franciscan Estate, moving up in a series of roles before eventually taking on the role as Winemaker in 2013. Marla joined the Antinori Estate in Napa Valley—Antica—in April 2018 where she works closely with CEO and chief enologist Renzo Cotarella and estate manager Glenn Salva to create Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from their Estate vineyard at 1,500 feet atop Atlas Peak. Marla has first-hand experience working through the challenges of smoke-impacted wines from the both the 2017 and 2020 vintages.
Peter Leske holds a degree in oenology from Roseworthy College. He has made wine with and for Jeffrey Grosset in the Clare Valley, French domaines Dujac, Alain Graillot and l’Arlot, and California’s E&J Gallo, and spent a decade at Nepenthe in the Adelaide Hills.

Peter spent five years managing the Technical Services Group at the Australian Wine Research Institute, providing advice and problem-solving to winemakers across the country, and worked on environmental issues including drought and climate change at the South Australian Wine Industry Association. He now divides his time between making wine for super-premium clients at Revenir Winemaking, and—with marketing guru David LeMire MW—his own label “La Linea,” specializing in Tempranillo and Mencia.

Peter also has an MBA, but describes his greatest challenge and achievement as sharing in the parenting of two beautiful daughters. He was named Winemaker of the Year by The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology in 2020.

Anne was born and raised in Réunion Island. When her parents, passionate of Burgundy wines, bought their first vineyards in the early 90s in the Côte de Nuits, she started working every summer in the vineyards and developed a growing interest in viticulture and winemaking.

Anne left the island to attend college in Dijon and enrolled later in the master’s program of viticulture and oenology in Bordeaux. During that time, she would always go back to Burgundy for her internships (Domaine Jean-François Coche-Dury and Domaine Hubert Lignier). After graduating she decided to go to the U.S. to perfect her English and see another Pinot noir region. She fell in love with the Willamette Valley and decided to stay. She then met Laurent Montalieu, who offered her a position as assistant winemaker for Soléna. In 2012 she joined the NW Wine Co. team and later became one of its winemakers.