Wildfire Smoke Taints Woodinville Winery's 2020 Batch Of Wine


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A family winery based in Woodinville, Washington said they will not be selling their 2020 vintage after their wines were tainted by wildfire smoke.

Betz Family Winery announced Tuesday that "smoke taint" has impacted their grapes used for wine, making some of the alcohol "taste like an ashtray," KING wrote. Reporters said hundreds of barrels of red wine won't be bottled and will be studied by researchers.

The smoke stemmed from the furious wildfires that plagued Washington, Oregon, and California in September and October 2020.

The winery's vineyards are located in eastern Washington along the Columbia River Valley, Walla Walla, and Yakima Valley. After the intense blazes, the winery staff noticed the changes to wine's flavors during the fermentation process. Lab tests confirmed the smoke taint, according to Bridgit Griessel of Betz Family Winery.

"We would never compromise ever. I mean, the minute we heard that was an issue, we knew immediately we weren't going to be releasing a wine that remotely had any smoke taint at all," Griessel said. "It's an entire year's worth of revenue, and that for us is the biggest reality."

"Toxicity or health issues are not really the problem here," Tom Collins said, a researcher and assistant professor with WSU's Wine Science Center. "It's more a matter of aroma and flavor."