Wine grape research in OSU lab
Jenna Fryer, an Oregon State University graduate student, processing grape samples before analyzing the grapes for smoke compounds. (Photo by Sean Nealon, Oregon State University)

CORVALLIS — The impact of wildfire smoke on wine and grapes will be the topic of Oregon State University’s Science Pub on Feb. 14.

The virtual event, a joint effort of Oregon State University in Corvallis and OSU-Cascades in Bend, will feature Cole Cerrato, a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State. His presentation is titled: “Clearing the haze around wildfire smoke’s impact on wine: the chemistry of smoke-affected wine.”

In recent years, wine vintners in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and along the West Coast have increasingly had to consider potential impacts to wine quality due to the overwhelming presence of wildfire smoke. Unlike other crops, wine grapes are particularly sensitive to wildfire smoke, often acquiring burnt, ashy or campfire-like sensory characteristics after fermentation.

Researchers at Oregon State, including Cerrato, have been investigating which chemicals in smoke have the greatest impact in wine and how best to mitigate the off-flavor characteristics of smoked-affected wine.

Oregon State’s Woodhall Vineyard. (Photo by Sean Nealon, Oregon State University)

During his Science Pub talk, Cerrato will provide some background about wine chemistry, give a demonstration of how to drink wine to best sense flavor and aroma characteristics, and describe his research with Elizabeth Tomasino, an associate professor of enology at Oregon State, on smoke-affected wine.

The free Science Pub will run from 6-7:30 p.m. The event will be broadcast on YouTube Live. Registration is required and can be completed at

Sponsors of Science Pub include the OSU Office of Research, OSU-Cascades in Bend and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.