Smoke tainted winegrapes are causing wineries to reduce their 2020 vintages

Hunter Valley winery, Tyrrell’s Wines, has made the decision to have a severely reduced 2020 vintage due to smoke-tainted grapes.

Although the winery has not directly been affected by bushfire, Tyrrell’s Wines said the presence of smoke in the vineyard has reduced its 2020 vintage.

Tyrrell’s has been working closely with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), and Dr Ian Porter of La Trobe University, testing the vineyards’ grapes across the region for smoke taint.

The winery has been conducting micro ferments in its laboratory which has led to the decision that most of its vineyards will not be harvested for wine production.

If tainted grapes are made into wine they will have unpredictable levels of undesirable characters and this will normally get worse over time.

“We, as a family, have decided to have a significantly reduced vintage compared to previous years. We are estimating a total crop loss of 80%,” the winery said in a statement.

“The impact of smoke taint is not universal across the region. The Hunter Valley is a large geographical area and there were many factors to consider when making this decision including proximity to the fires, elevation of vineyards, and days in contact with fresh smoke.

“This decision has been our own and reinforces our premium quality standing in the world of fine wine.

“As with any other year, any wine that we do bottle from the 2020 vintage will only be of a standard that the family deem befitting of our 162 year legacy.”

As the drought continues, the grapes from these affected vineyards will not go to waste and will be utilised as mulch and feed for the cattle on Tyrrell’s property.