On June 21, 2008, we attended a Maurtison winery outdoor dinner for wine club members at one of their Rockpile Vineyards deep in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. This is an amazing area of deep hillsides and rough terrain. We took a tour of the vineyards that sit high above Lake Sonoma. The air was clear and breezy and the views terrific. Two hours later during dinner, it was a completely different story. The entire area was filled with a haze of smoke. A wave of lighting strikes had set forest fires in Mendocino County and the winds brought the smoky air to the south. The smoky air lingered there for days as far away as the San Mateo Peninsula, but in Mendocino Country and parts of Sonoma County the smoky air was there for three weeks.The 2008 vintage will begin to emerge soon with white wines. These wines should not have a problem with smoke, because in the winemaking process the juice is squeezed from the grapes and the skins discarded. In the case of red wines, the skin is in contact with the juice, and hence the greater chance for smoke taint. The 2008 reds are in barrels now and I imagine the vintners have a good idea of how these wines will taste.
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