Washington’s congressional delegation members have introduced legislation to insure wine grape growers against smoke exposure. The state’s grape farmers have been heavily impacted by ongoing wildfire smoke. The legislation seeks to protect the state’s wine industry financially. The bill would amend the Federal Crop Insurance Act and require the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to develop crop insurance that covers losses due to smoke exposure. The FCIC would be required to submit a feasibility report to Congress within two years of passage.

A 2019 Oregon State University report says smoke damage affects the flavor of wines to be more “smoky,” using descriptions like “burnt rubber” and “ash” to describe the change. Although smoke doesn’t affect the quality of wine grapes, the flavor change can make them undesirable for consumers and subsequently lower the product’s value. Washington’s wine industry is nothing to shake a stick at, coming in second only to California with more than 800 wineries and 250 wine and grape growers across 14,000 acres of vineyards.

Read more about efforts to insure grapes against smoke damage here.