Because so many of our clients are impacted by the current wildfires, we've put together answers to common questions about the options for testing for smoke impact as well as the procedures to follow when sampling. You can also download a printable version of this handout
All smoke samples should be shipped to our St. Helena location (899 Adams Street, Suite A, Saint Helena, CA 94574)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
I WANT TO TEST GRAPES FOR SMOKE, WHAT KIND OF SAMPLE SHOULD I BRING?
The preferred sample for red or white grapes is a representative 250-300 berry sample, with berries as intact as possible. Transport in small rigid “sandwich boxes” works well.
CAN YOU TEST SYRAH?
Yes, but Syrah naturally contains variable amounts of guaiacol, the main smoke marker. This makes it difficult to assess smoke impact, unless exposure to smoke has been relatively severe. One (unperfect) strategy is to use other varieties grown next to Syrah blocks as “proxies”.
WITH WHITE GRAPES, SHOULDN’T I BRING JUICE SAMPLES?
Since smoke compounds are mostly in skins we still prefer whole berry samples for white grapes.
WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO BRING SAMPLES?
The typical recommendation is about 10-7 days prior to harvest. Keep in mind that the impact of smoke is cumulative and that “negative” results too early may give a false sense of security especially if more exposure to smoke happens.
SHOULD I CRUSH BERRIES AND LET THEM SOAK IN THEIR JUICE BEFORE BRINGING THEM?
We do not recommend this. When we have control of the sample preparation our interpretation guidelines are more applicable.
CAN YOU TEST FOR MORE THAN JUST GUAIACOLS?
Yes, more information on this can be found on our website under the analyses section.
CAN I MIX BERRIES FROM DIFFERENT VARIETIES AND BRING A COMPOSITE SAMPLE?
This is not advisable . We’ve seen in previous years drastic differences in pick-up of smoke compounds between grape varieties, with Petit Verdot often much more impacted than other cultivars.
WHAT IS YOUR TURNAROUND TIME?
For the most accurate turnaround time we recommend taking a look at our website (Analyses - Smoke Markers). We’ll keep our TAT information for grape and wine tests updated regularly.
FOR EVEN MORE INFORMATION, VISIT OUR WEBSITE