Wine Spectator: West Coast Wineries Are Refusing Grape Orders And Farmers Are UnhappyOctober 15, 2018
Wine grapegrowers in Northern California’s Lake and Mendocino counties and Oregon’s Rogue Valley are unhappy after some of the industry’s bigger companies refused grapes from growers they had contracts with due to potential smoke taint as a result of summer wildfires. The companies say lab tests showed high levels of compounds that could lead to smoky flavors in wines, but the growers dispute that.
In late August, Constellation Brands and Treasury Wine Estates rejected an estimated 1,200 tons of grapes from several Lake and Mendocino growers, just as harvest was getting underway. A few weeks later, Joe Wagner’s Copper Cane Wines & Provisions refused 2,000 tons of grapes from 15 grapegrowers in Southern Oregon.
“This was a tough decision to make,” Wagner told Wine Spectator. “Knowing that we need to maintain our good reputation with growers as well as with our brand, we made the call after discovering that it was more widespread than we thought.”
Two wildfires ignited in Southern Oregon in mid-July. One is still burning, with 75% containment. Fires in Lake and Mendocino counties broke out at the end of July and took more than a month to contain.
Sam Tannahill, co-founder of Oregon’s A to Z Wineworks, is one of Oregon’s largest purchasers of Rogue Valley grapes for his 375,000-case brand, and believes it’s an unfortunate situation that is difficult to blame on anyone. “A winery doesn’t want to expose itself to liability or make bad wine, and growers are upset because they feel like they’ve done nothing wrong,” Tannahill told Wine Spectator. “It’s frustrating, because it’s not an issue of poor vineyard management; it’s outside the control of both winery and vineyard.” Wine Spectator has a full report on the situation. —Aaron RomanoSubscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.
Tagged : Copper Cane, smoke taint, Wine Spectator
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