How Wildfires Are Threatening California’s Prized Napa Cab

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The bottles, which came from vineyards in the Napa Valley, contained Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2020 vintage. They had all been made from grapes harvested after the Glass Fire, a blaze that tore through Napa, burning almost 68,000 acres and turning the skies orange. Nearly 30 wineries were ravaged by fire, but far more difficult to gauge was the damage wrought by smoke — which can travel, unstoppable, over a larger swath of land and seep into any vineyard’s fruit. Oberholster, an exacting South African–born chemist at UC Davis’s Department of Viticulture and Enology, is the closest thing California has to an expert on smoke and wine, and after the fire died down, wineries began sending her clusters of grapes and samples of wine in the desperate hope that she could help them prepare for the next disaster.

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