For our wine lover readers, so many adjectives are used to describe fine wine. We hear terms like sweet, dry, and toasty. And sometimes we hear the “charm smokey” flavor. But when is smokey flavor too much? Recent wildfires in California Wine Country, particularly those that devastated parts of Napa and Sonoma counties in October 2017, have focused attention on whether insurance covers smoke taint damage to grapes and wine.
Many wineries and grape growers have notified their insurers of possible smoke taint damage claims. However, smoke taint in certain cases may present itself only after some time after the smoke exposure has passed. The debate, and an October 2019 court case, will decide.
Property insurers for the wine industry cover damage to “harvested grapes” or wine in process, but not damage to grapes while they are “on the vine.” Crop insurance is supposed to cover damage to the vines and grapes on them.
The Napa and Sonoma wildfires started and continued to burn around the time many wineries and growers had planned to harvest their grapes. Some were lucky and had completed their harvests before the fires broke out, but did the smoke arrive by the time they were picked? If so, how thick did the smoke become by the time they were picked, and could the smoke have caused damage to the grapes while they were on the vine?
So the next time you are swirling, sniffing, and savoring your favorite wine, is it Smokey?!
See you on the trail,