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Understanding Vineyard Soils$
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Robert E. White

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199342068

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199342068.001.0001

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Putting it All Together

Putting it All Together

(p.217) 6 Putting it All Together
Understanding Vineyard Soils

Robert E. White

Oxford University Press

In reality, there can be no generic definition of an “ideal soil” because a soil’s performance is influenced by the local climate, landscape characteristics, grape variety, and cultural practices and is judged in the context of a winegrower’s objectives for style of wine to be made, market potential, and profitability of the enterprise. This realization essentially acknowledges the long-established French concept of terroir: that the distinctiveness or typicity of wines produced in individual locations depends on a complex interaction of biophysical and human cultural factors, interpreted by many as meaning a wine’s sense of place. As discussed in “Soil Variability and the Concept of Terroir” in chapter 1, because of this interaction of factors that determine a particular terroir, it is not surprising that no specific relationships between one or more soil properties and wine typicity have been unequivocally demonstrated. While acknowledging this conclusion, it is still worthwhile to examine how variations in several single or combined soil properties can influence vine performance and fruit character. These properties are: • Soil depth • Soil structure and water supply • Soil strength • Soil chemistry and nutrient supply • Soil organisms Provided there are no subsoil constraints, the natural tendency of long-lived Vitis vinifera, on own roots or rootstocks, to root deeply and extensively gives it access to a potentially large store of water and nutrients. In sandy and gravely soils that are naturally low in nutrients, such as in the Médoc region of France, the Margaret River region in Western Australia, and the Wairau River plain, Marlborough region, New Zealand, the deeper the soil the better. A similar situation pertains on the deep sandy soils on granite in the Cauquenas region, Chile. However, such depth may be a disadvantage where soils are naturally fertile and rain is plentiful, as in parts of the Mornington Peninsula, King and Yarra Valley regions, Victoria, Australia, and the Willamette Valley region in Oregon (see figure 1.11, chapter 1), because vine growth is too vigorous and not in balance.

Keywords:   Barossa Valley, Entwine Australia, Languedoc-Roussillon region, Merlot, Riesling, Semillon, acid soils, climate change, digital terroir, excess vigor

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