New grape coating to combat smoke from wildfires

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Fire season and smoke can have a devastating effect on Oregon’s wine industry. During 2020 the wildfires resulted in a $3 billion loss due to damaged grapes. But a new Oregon State University project might have a solution.

OSU researchers are working on a spray-on cellulose coating for grapes. It targets the compounds in smoke that can produce off-flavors and wines.

The coating is still in development. As of right now it only partially blocks smoke compounds and absorbs others.

That’s fine as long as winemakers are able to wash the coating thoroughly off. However, the scientists are still working on an edible coating that fully blocks smoke compounds.

Elizabeth Tomasino, Associate Professor of Enology, OSU says, “The easiest way to stop this off labor from happening is we don’t have fires. Since that is out of my control. the next best thing to do is stop the compounds from entering the grapes should a wildfire and smoke occur in the vineyard.”

Researchers expect to have the grape coating ready in the next couple of years.

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