Wines of Chile developing plan to recover vineyards lost in fire

The initiative to recover vineyards lost in the fires will have training, technology and providing necessary tools as the main objectives in the action plan.

After the urgent needs detected in the survey of fire damage, Wines of Chile wants to develop an aid plan which will, where possible, recover the vineyards lost in the fires. This will be through training, information and technology, among other aspects. A committee will be tasked with creating the action plan, together with the support of different resources in Wines of Chile including the I+D Consorcio (technology and innovation department).

As part of this initiative of information sharing with those affected, we want to share some information from an Australian study into the effects of smoke on grape and wine production:

The studies suggest that vines affected by smoke, and resulting wines tainted by smoke, is a growing problem in the wine industry, as every year the climate is getting hotter and forest fires are increasing.

Wines made from grapes exposed to smoke during the growth period can present aromas and flavours similar to smoked meat, disinfectant, leather, salame and ash. When unfavourable characteristics of smoke are detected by consumers in high concentrations, the wine can be unpleasant. These wines are not suitable for sale and result in financial loss for the producers with costs that can affect wine brands, market presence and future sales.

Currently there are few tools and techniques available to remedy the problem of smoke taint in grapes and wine. However, a significant advancement has been developed regarding a calculation of risk of smoke contamination. The risk calculator (known as STAR) was developed by the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia (DAFWA) and the University of Western Australia (UWA) to predict the seasonal sensitivity of vines to smoke absoption and the development of smoke flavours in wine.

The use of STAR, along with other techniques after the harvest, will give us the opportunity to effectively reduce the undesireable affects of smoke in the grapes and wine. This tool is one of many that can be used, and one that we want to share with our colleagues in the industry, so that we can counteract the effect of the devastating fires that have affected our country.

We will be releasing more details to Wines of Chile members very soon.