Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren had their eye on business and the working class during the first 2020 presidential primary debate in Miami.2020 Electionsread more
Huawei's legal chief told CNBC that the company makes "solutions for civil use."Technologyread more
The issue over health insurance marked the first stark divide among the candidates, and sparked a heated back-and-forth between many of the candidates on stage.Politicsread more
Four candidates mentioned China — but none of the Democratic contenders brought up trade in the debate.Politicsread more
In a strategy to draw attention away from Wednesday's Democratic debate, President Donald Trump's reelection campaign bought out YouTube's "masthead," the leading...2020 Electionsread more
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that is has found an issue with the Boeing 737 Max that the manufacturer must address before it lifts the grounding...Airlinesread more
The collapse of the deal potentially ended Sinclair's hopes of building a national conservative-leaning TV powerhouse that might have rivaled Fox News.Mediaread more
Huawei legal chief Song Liuping told CNBC that the company is in the "early phase" of talks with Verizon over paying royalties.Technologyread more
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner breaks down the idea behind a bipartisan bill he introduced to provide more transparency in Big Tech.Technologyread more
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday asked India to withdraw retaliatory tariffs that New Delhi imposed this month, calling the duties "unacceptable."World Economyread more
Wi-Fi 6 will be the next-generation wireless standard. Along with 5G, it will represent the next big shift in connectivity and data, said Irving Tan, senior vice president and...Shaping the futureread more
Wildfires sweeping through southeast Australia are carrying with them the specter of a silent killer for grapes growing in the nearby Adelaide Hills wine region.
The vineyards have so far escaped the direct ravages of the worst bushfires for 30 years but winemakers fear their grapes may have fallen victim to "smoke taint", which results in wines that taste like an ashtray and can ruin an entire vintage.
As fears grow that climate change is lengthening the time and severity of Australia's bushfire season, government funding to find a solution to the phenomenon is drying up.
"It's a nightmare of a problem," said Mark Krstic, a specialist in smoke taint at the Australian Wine Research Institute who is liaising with worried growers in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia state.
"Smoke taint is one of the symptoms of climate change for the wine industry and it's only getting worse."
Smoke taint first caught the industry's attention when Victoria state's severe bushfires in 2003 cost grape growers more than A$7.5 million ($6.05 million) in lost vintages. Since then, it has recurred in vintages around the country in four other years.
The contamination occurs when smoke compounds enter vines through the stomata - the minute pores in the epidermis of the leaf - and are transported into grape skins.
Those compounds are then released into the wine when the crushed grapes come into contact with the skins during fermentation. Tasters commonly liken the resulting wine to an ashtray, burnt rubber and hospital disinfectant.
Grape growers with tainted crops have two options - abandon the vintage or continue the costly harvesting and fermentation process to make a significantly devalued product.
"It's a no-win," said Chris Pfieffer of Pfieffer Wines in the Rutherglen wine region, who lost his 2003 crop to smoke taint.
"It's a risk that's at the top of climate change concerns in the industry."
Hotter and drier
Australia's main wine growing regions are growing ever hotter and drier, with temperatures projected to increase by between 0.3 and 1.7 degrees Celsius by 2030, according to the CSIRO, Australia's national science agency.
That has prompted many major growers such as Treasury Wine Estates Ltd to look for cooler climate vineyards in places like the southernmost island state of Tasmania.
There are also mitigation measures in place to deal with some of the warming effects, such as new irrigation methods and specially developed sunscreen for grapes.
But attempts to find a way to extract the smoke taint compound have so far failed and the industry is concerned about a lack of public money for research into the problem.
There are no funds from Australia's current Conservative-led coalition government, which has played down the role of climate change on agriculture. A A$4 million project over four years run by the Victoria government, the only assistance at state level, ends in the middle of 2015.
Hard to detect
A complicating factor for growers is that smoke taint is not immediately detectable. Samples of suspected contaminated grapes cannot be taken for clinical testing and a mini-fermentation to determine taste until a couple of weeks before normal harvest time. That can mean an agonizing wait of weeks or months for growers who think they may have affected vines.
Worse, as young wines mature the smoke taint can develop further as the guilty compounds continue to break down.
That risk means many wine makers like Treasury and Australian Vintage have in recent years inserted blanket clauses in their contracts with growers saying they reserve the right to reject the grapes if there is any sign of smoke taint, no matter how mild.
Chris Pfieffer chose to harvest his 2003 crop "to the ground" and forgo the cost of fermenting. Pfieffer's grapes were infected again to differing degrees in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2013.
While a grape grower can command between A$3 and A$4 a liter for good quality grapes, that falls to just 50 to 60 cents a liter for the bulk sale of partially smoke tainted grapes. If the grapes are so badly affected they can only be distilled to recover the alcohol, the price falls to around 10 cents per liter.
Those reduced returns line up against the A$2 per liter average cost to grow grapes.
"I chose not to work that out," Pfieffer said when asked about the accumulated financial toll. "If you do that in the wine industry, you'd end up crying, but it's certainly significant."
Concerned growers in the Adelaide Hills, many of whom have been evacuated as the current fires rage, are meeting with the AWRC's Krstic next week to consider their options.
"Wine may ultimately be seen as too much of a luxury," Pfieffer said. "We might be better off using our water to grow lettuces."