Quantcast

"wet ashtray"

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

Snafflebit

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
242
Reaction score
113
Location
San Jose, CA
'Wet ashtray' wine grapes left to birds as fires choke West Coast vineyards

While I was pressing the Merlot and Cab a couple of days ago, I noticed what smelled like tobacco coming off the press. I honestly did not think much of it. But now that I read this article, I started recalling the odor. It did smell more like an ashtray, that burnt ashy smell. Hoo boy I thought that this smoke problem was being blown out of proportion, now I am not sure.
 

CoteRotie

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 19, 2020
Messages
35
Reaction score
21
Location
SF Bay Area
Definitely interesting- You're already pressing Merlot and Cab? When and where were they harvested? What was the Brix at harvest? I'm still waiting for my Sonoma Cab to ripen, and I'm also worried about smoke taint.
 

Snafflebit

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
242
Reaction score
113
Location
San Jose, CA
The grapes are from Santa Clara valley, near where I live. There were days that I did not go outside because of the smoke and I had to clean ash off surfaces. The smell was quite bad some days. I assumed that smoke taint would not happen to me, but that was stupid. Luckily the grapes were free, only my time and labor. I have to see how the wine flavors evolve. I was only detecting the ashtray smell during press.

We hit 27 Brix on 9/9/20 This was definitely an early year, also the vines are water stressed a bit.
 

CoteRotie

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 19, 2020
Messages
35
Reaction score
21
Location
SF Bay Area
The grapes are from Santa Clara valley, near where I live. There were days that I did not go outside because of the smoke and I had to clean ash off surfaces. The smell was quite bad some days. I assumed that smoke taint would not happen to me, but that was stupid. Luckily the grapes were free, only my time and labor. I have to see how the wine flavors evolve. I was only detecting the ashtray smell during press.

We hit 27 Brix on 9/9/20 This was definitely an early year, also the vines are water stressed a bit.
Thanks for the info, good luck and keep us posted on how the wine evolves!
 

DPCellars

A Donkey makes my wine
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 22, 2020
Messages
61
Reaction score
76
Location
Central California
The grapes are from Santa Clara valley, near where I live. There were days that I did not go outside because of the smoke and I had to clean ash off surfaces. The smell was quite bad some days. I assumed that smoke taint would not happen to me, but that was stupid. Luckily the grapes were free, only my time and labor. I have to see how the wine flavors evolve. I was only detecting the ashtray smell during press.

We hit 27 Brix on 9/9/20 This was definitely an early year, also the vines are water stressed a bit.
I picked mine from the central valley. The morning we picked, there was so much ash on our car it looked like dirty snow. The rising sun was a faint red color and the grapes were loaded with fallen ash. Because the smell was so strong in the air, I could not tell if the grapes were affected.

The first few days of fermentation, I was concerned at the really ugly and dull look of the must. Around day three, I punched down and the color was turning a beautiful purple. I didn't notice anything unusual as I was tasting through fermentation, then again, this was only my third time making wine, so I do not really have a complete understanding of the nuances at that stage.

I am wondering though if the smoke in the air helped shoo away the fruit flies. I had all the normal traps set. Last year they filled up. This year, not a single fruit fly. (not complaining)
 

G259

Senior Member
Joined
May 19, 2018
Messages
413
Reaction score
175
Location
W. MA
Maybe any ash components will 'fall out' (hopefully), and at least you have an opportunity for different naming conventions. 'Mega Fire Red' comes to mind!
 

Kitchen

Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2020
Messages
38
Reaction score
20
Interesting.

I too crushed 180 lbs of Cab Sav and Merlot from the CA this Monday, and I did not notice any burnt smell like you described. With that said, mine had to be shipped across country.

But any way, my OG was 1.106 and I diluted it down to 1.101. PH is pretty high too, at around 4.1, but I plan on bringing that down to 3.4 when I start fermentation on Thursday or Friday.
 

CoteRotie

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 19, 2020
Messages
35
Reaction score
21
Location
SF Bay Area
Got word today that my grapes are a no-go this year, the vineyard is just on the edge of the glass fire. I only feel bad for all the folks up in wine country who have lost homes, wineries, vineyards, inventory, etc. I just feel lucky that we were unaffected by fires so far this year, though the Peninsula fire came too close for comfort.
 

BI81

Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
68
Reaction score
43
Here’s a blog post from Roy Piper with some good info about smoke taint, although it seems there aren’t many ways to mitigate once it’s there.


Hopefully you have a bit of luck and the wines turn out ok.
 

Snafflebit

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
242
Reaction score
113
Location
San Jose, CA
I have started sampling my wines. MLF is kicking in. This is a useful video. I am so far detecting a vaguely oaky note even though I added only one oak cube to each carboy, to give the MLF a “coral reef” to hide in. I do not think the wines are ruined.
 

Snafflebit

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
242
Reaction score
113
Location
San Jose, CA
It turned out to be a way of topping up after a small sample. That and I have been bad at judging when to add oak. I keep the carboys in a cold cabin over the winter where I cannot keep on top of sampling and so I am conservative with oak
 
Top