Harvest at Iron Hub
The vintage of 2021 was in jeopardy due to the Caldor fire, which ignited on August 14th only 10 miles from our estate. The following weeks included evacuation warnings, thick smoke, and concern for our community and first responders. We are grateful to the first responders for evacuating everyone safely from danger and stopping the westward progress of the fire. Fortunately, the smoke and light ash that our grapes were exposed to was not absorbed into the grape skins, referred to as smoke taint. Smoke taint is currently an active field of research in the wine industry where many questions remain without definitive answers. Smoke taint causes the wine to smell or taste burnt and spoils the wine’s natural bright flavors. Chemical compounds referred to as volatile phenols cause smoke taint and are generated upon combustion of the material. Fortunately, volatile phenols degrade within 24 hours after being generated. Therefore, the smoke we observed at Iron Hub appears to have been generated post 24 hours.
Tom and Spencer conducted bucket trial fermentations and grapes were sent into the lab for smoke taint analysis. Smoke taint was not detected by taste or smell in the bucket trail fermentations and tested negative for smoke taint in the lab. For assurance, we also thoroughly hand sorted the fruit this year. Sorting tables were added to our processing line to remove leaves from the fruit prior to beginning fermentation. Tom states, “so far the ‘21 vintage is tasting excellent, with bright fruit character and gentle tannins. I have yet to smell or taste smoke taint across the different varieties.” What a relief it is knowing that our grapes are smoke taint-free and that we have an excellent 2021 vintage in our cellar!