Vineyards that escaped California wildfires find grapes permeated by smoke

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Dr. Anita Oberholster (left) leads a team at UC Davis, working on groundbreaking research on how to keep the smoke taint out of vineyard grapes. Photo by Karen Block.

For Northern California's wineries, 2020 was a very bad year. The Glass Fire tore through Napa and Sonoma, damaging or destroying roughly 30 wineries. Even for vineyards left untouched by wildfires, smoke that accumulates in the air can permeate the fruit and ruin valuable crops. 

Dr. Anita Oberholster is a researcher in UC Davis's famed Viticulture and Enology department. She and her colleagues are working on several diagnostic and preventative tools to help winemakers preserve their grapes and prevent their wine from tasting like the bottom of an ashtray.