Tests performed in Denver, CO

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Denver, CO based Ellipse Analytics is recognized as an ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited laboratory for smoke impact testing by ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB).


With last year’s wildfires burning through 4.2 million acres in California and roughly 1.07 million acres in Oregon, making 2020 the worst wildfire season in modern history, the effects on the wine industry were devastating.  Smoke testing and availability could not keep up with demand and this caused significant  problems for wineries and growers


According to the Insurance Information Institute[1], the 2021 wildfire season is predicted to be severe with wildfires already burning. Most states in the West are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor[2]. From January 1 to July 21, 2021 there were about 35,588 wildfires, compared with 29,437 in the same period 2020, according to the National Interagency Fire Center[3]


Along with stepping up their wildfire prevention efforts, wineries are exploring tactics for dealing with potential smoke taint. There are only a few laboratories that test for smoke taint in the US market and the overflow in 2020 left many wineries with extensive lead times or closed out of testing all together.  


In 2021, Ellipse Analytics passed the rigorous assessment with ZERO non-conformances and is now offering smoke impact analysis as part of our scope of accredited services.

Ellipse Ananlytics has now been approved as a accredited provider of smoke taint testing by all three of the largest crop insurance carriers in the state of CA. These are:

How It Works

  • Ellipse Analytics accepts juice, wine and berry samples from all customers impacted by wildfires.  Research has shown that a number of phenolic compounds such as guaiacol, 4‑methylguaiacol, various isomers of cresol and syringol are largely responsible for the off-aromas and flavors found in smoke impacted wines. Ellipse Analytics measures the levels of volatile phenols (guaiacol, 4-methylguaiacol, and p-cresol) directly. If requested, the levels of bound phenols may also be measured indirectly through acid hydrolysis. Glycosylated (bound) phenols may also contribute to the aromas and flavors related to smoke taint. The bounds forms are partially released through the fermentation process. To aid in understanding the impact of smoke on the finished wines, small batch or micro-fermentation is recommended prior to analysis.

  • The primary marker compounds linked to smoke taint in wines are guaiacol and 4-methylguaiacol. Unfortunately, there are number of other possible compounds indicative of smoke taint, and there are a number of possible forms for each compound. At the Basic Panel, Ellipse measures guaiacol, 4-methylguaiacol, and p-cresol, with estimated results provided for o-cresol and m-cresol. In the Comprehensive Panel, a process of acid hydrolysis is used to measure each of the compounds in the Basic Screen, but in their bound forms. This allows customers to understand to maximum amount of each phenolic compound that could be released in the winemaking process.

Samples for Testing

  • Berries: If samples are carefully selected, berries can offer the most representative picture of smoke impact. To ensure validity of results, Ellipse Analytics recommends either submitting a sample containing grapes/berries from various regions or submitting multiple samples from representative areas. It is recommended to handle samples carefully trying to keep berries whole and ship samples cold. Samples should be collected close to the harvest date.

  • Wine: Analyzing wine samples is a useful tool for confirming smoke impact, since the wine making process can release bound smoke compounds. Samples from small-scale fermentations performed pre-harvest may be tested to confirm the impact of smoke compounds released during wine making. 

  • Juice: Smoke impact markers may be tested in juice samples, but since smoke compounds are primarily located in skins, whole berry testing or micro-fermentation is recommended to ensure the validity of results. 

Ellipse Analytics will Guarantee Members a Testing Spot!

  • Although it is difficult to prepare for the unpredictable forces of nature, Ellipse Analytics will provide vintners and growers a testing facility to help support producers impacted by wildfires by guaranteeing a fast turnaround for a set number of samples to those who join our membership program. Our membership fees are tiered by the estimated number of samples that will be submitted. View pricing and membership fees here.  Membership will guarantee a 3-5 day turnaround time and lock in a discounted price. To become a member and secure your spot, join here. Membership fees are non-refundable if testing is not required in a calendar year.

    • Testing is performed by Ellipse Analytics accredited laboratory in Denver, Colorado.

    • Turnaround time: 3-5 days guaranteed for members. Up to 9 days or more for non-members (timing based on demand and resources available at time of testing).

    • Cost per sample: Click here for pricing.

  • The challenges of climate change won’t go away. Be prepared for the challenges of the future and partner with Ellipse Analytics to guarantee that you get the testing you need, when you need it. Join now!


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