How the recent smoke has affected local wine industry - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

How the recent smoke has affected local wine industry

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PROSSER, WA - Fortunately, the smoke from fires in our area is finally gone after hanging around for much of the summer. But as grape harvest gets going, we couldn't help but wonder: did the smoke impact our wine industry?

We all know the smoke was a nightmare on our lungs, but the expert we spoke with says things could have been much worse for the grapes.

While smoky flavor might be good for some things...grapes definitely aren't one of them.

"If that comes into the winery on the berry, it gets onto the wine and that can leave you with a smoky taste to the wine and it's not a nice smoky, it's kind of like an ashtray smoky," said David Forsyth with Four Feathers Wine Estates. 

Four Feathers Wine Estates tested the grapes at several vineyards in our region, and say so far, so good.

"Fortunately, all the smoke came in, all the tests came in below detectable limits, so fresh bill of health for Four Feathers Wines and for Washington State wine.," Forsyth said. "We really dodged a bullet on this one."

Now that doesn't mean the smoke didn't have any impact on harvest.

"It has started off really slow; we had some cool weather there the second week of September, but there's also been another leg and attribute that possibly to the smoke, and the lack or reduction of sunlight that we've had."

But interestingly enough, the smoke seemed to help at least one aspect of the growing season.

"Early September when it was supposed to get up to record breaking temperatures, we found that that smoke layer we had here protected the, kept the temperatures down five to seven degrees lower than forecasted, and also protected our grapes from getting sunburned," said Forsyth.

Now with major wildfires burning in California wine country, it remains to be seen what - if any - impact smoke will have on California grapes.