What does "terroir" mean?
Quality winemaking starts in the vineyard. Starting
in the 1500s, the French experimented with different plantings
in different areas, and through trial and error found the perfect
match between grape variety and
environment. In the new world winegrowers
are just beginning to realize the importance of terroir and
it has improved wine quality to world
class in a few decades.
The concept of terroir incorporates
the notion of site and location which includes all factors
that work together to create a region with particular wine
characteristics. The factors start with the rock and resulting
soil, through the climate and vineyard practice, ending with
art and the consuming public. Now we are becoming aware of
the scientific basis for our experience with terrior. Here
we consider the major geologic factors of terroir: the parent
material and the soil mineralogy and texture.
I am a geologist and researcher applying my background to the
holy grail of all winegrowers: What is the effect of geology and
soil on wine quality?. My approach is to meet winegrowers in the
vineyard, discuss the various factors that might affect wine quality
there, and study the geology and soils hot spots where the best
quality grapes come from. My conclusions are that balanced chemistry,
low CEC clay in and a open texture are essential ingredients
for great wine. This is elaborated in my papers and abstracts cited
I also am a educational consultant
on all aspects of geology related to winegrowing, and have
done projects for Jackson Family Farms, Benziger Family Winery,
Vision Cellars, MacLoud Family Vineyards, Goldridge Pinot,
Sonoma County Wine Library,Poplar Vineyards and Iron Horse
Vineyards. I have presented my ideas at several local symposia
on Wine Quality, sponsored by Russian River Winegrowers,
Sonoma County vineyard technical group, Sonoma County Wine
Library Associates and Green Valley Winegrowers in Sonoma
I also support the demand for geology and soils information
for winery publicity, including information for point-of-sale
materials, wine labels and websites. Check
Sussman’s web page for Radio-Coteau winery as an example: http://www.radiocoteau.com This
site has engendered much interest driven by geologic information.
A label without reference to soils types and roles is leaving one
half of the story of the wine in the dust. I am available for vineyard
meetings, writing and conferences on soils and wine quality.
For more information:
Check out both my article and ad for Practical
Windery & Vineyard.
See my Poster
on geology soils and wine quality in Sonoma County from Terroirs
2006 meeting. (large file)
Publications and Activities:
Field trip to southern Sonoma County-Geology and Wine: CSTA Field
Trip, October 20, 2006. http://conference.cascience.org/fieldcourses.asp
New download: Terroirs of Sonoma County-Simplified
(with characteristics of AVAs), In Powerpoint. Caution:
because this is a large file, it would be best to have a high
speed connection to the WWW.
Also, Sonoma County
Geology, Soils and Wine quality;
Powerpoint presentation from Sonoma County Wine Library Associates
annual meeting, 2/2/06
Past Publications and Links
Guidebook to field trip,
Geology soils and wine quality in the Santa Clara Valley. Geological
Society of America Cordilleran Section Meeting, San Jose,
"Revised soils and wine quality
paper 3/05". Please see accompanying tables
Geology/Soil Impact Impact Wine Quality", Practical Winery
and Vineyard Magazine, Sept-Oct, 2001. and republished in Sonoma
County Grape Growers Association website in 2001. This will introduce
you to the subject.
"Soils and Wine Quality, the
Terroir Connection" an abstract of paper presented
at the National Geological Society of America Annual Meeting
in Reno 11/15/00 is another introduction.
An abstract written in 2003, presented at National GSA meeting
in Seattle: "Terroirs
of Sonoma County, California: Geology, Soils and Wine Quality
in the Vineyard."
And finally, please send any comments, feedback or contributions
to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to top of page