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Wildfires choke West Coast vineyards, 'wet ashtray' wine grapes left for birds
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Heavy ground smoke clouded Hanson Vineyards in Oregon’s picturesque Willamette Valley for more than a week following a Labor Day windstorm that kicked up wildfires across the western United States.
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Jason Hanson expects his crews may only harvest five tons of grapes, including his Chardonnay and Gamay varieties, down from the 25 to 30 tons his fields yielded last year. The birds can have the rest, he said, as the fruit has likely absorbed too much smoke to be salvaged and would produce wine that tastes like a “wet ashtray.”
“With the dense smoke that we’ve had at the ground level for so long now, almost everything has to be affected or damaged,” Hanson said. “I have a yearly fight with the birds. This year I’ll just let them win.”
WEATHER DISASTERS IN AUGUST, INCLUDING HURRICANES AND WILDFIRES, CAUSED AT LEAST $1B EACH IN DAMAGE
The historic wildfires across the western United States, home to the bulk of the country’s vineyards and major producers of crops from apples to zucchini, have ravaged farmers and ranchers already hard hit by the Trump administration’s trade wars and demand disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic.