California company rejects Rogue Valley grapes after traces of smoke found

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore. — Copper Cane LLC, a California based wine company, uses grapes from certain vineyards in the Rogue Valley but now, they’re cancelling their contracts.

According to The Oregonian, Copper Cane’s owner, Joseph Wagner, cancelled contracts with growers in the Rogue Valley on September 22nd. The company says they found that the grapes had smoke taint from this years fire season, according to The Oregonian.

However, some growers in the Valley didn’t see the same amount of smoke damage in the grapes that Copper cane saw.

NBC5 reached out to Rogue Valley Vintners and this was their response:

“The Rogue Valley Vintners and growers are not seeing or tasting anything exorbitantly alarming in our fruit. The 2018 vintage is no different in regards to smoke being in the valley than the ‘17 or ‘16 for that matter. Of course, there is always outlier situations but as a whole the 2018 Rogue Valley vintage is going to be of premier quality as it always has been. This is reinforced by the acceptance and continuation of fruit purchasing by many prominent wineries such as King Estate, A to Z and many more. Not to mention, all the consistently award winning wineries here in the Rogue Valley who will be utilizing it’s AVA’s fruit to produce yet another world class vintage. The Rogue Valley prides itself on quality and knows that in order to achieve the caliber of wine we are garnering a reputation for, our fruit must be not just usable but pristine. Unfortunately, this one company, Copper Cane, owned by, Joe Wagner, who just so happens to also be under investigation by the OLCC and TTB for potentially illegitimately labeling his wine with the intent of leveraging Oregon’s reputation for quality is claiming the fruit is tainted. Smoke taint or Smoke screen was the Mail Tribunes headline this morning and I find it very fitting. I very much look forward to the 2018 vintage of Rogue Valley Wines and have no concerns that this vintage of wines will preform on the world stage just as highly as our previous vintages.” – Ashley Cates, Vice President of Rogue Valley Vintners

Copper Cane LLC is also under investigation by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

NBC5 News has reached out to Copper Cane LLC but has not heard back.

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