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Soberanes Fire Could Ruin Vintage For Monterey County Grape Growers

KCBS_740 BIG SUR (CBS SF) -- The massive Soberanes Fire burning in Monterey County could have a smoky effect on the area's wind industry.

Even for vineyards miles away from the flames, a wildfire can ruin a vintage.

"Smoke can create smoke-taste, which lives in the skins of the grapes – and if nothing is done to the grapes it can make your wine kind of taste like a barbecue," Kim Stemler, Executive Director of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association told KCBS.

But, Stemler says the good news for growers is that it's early in the season.

"The grapes haven't gone through veraison yet, and veraison is where grapes turn colors. After veraison, the skins are much more susceptible to smoke taint," Stemler said.

At least one vineyard has been destroyed by the fire. Big Sur Vineyards lost a small estate, but Stemler says the wine community has already been banding together for fundraisers.

"Although Big Sur and Carmel Valley have some smoke, the rest of the area is OK, and we're actually open for business," Stemler said.

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