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Terroir

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As with any plant, the soil that a vine is planted in will influence its growth, health, vigor, and production. Most winemakers prefer well-draining, rather infertile soils for their vines. This may seem counter-intuitive, but in order to make quality wines it is imperative. The main component to the final wine’s quality is the vine’s yield of grapes. The viticutualist seeks to minimize the nutrition, both of water and mineral, in order to stress the vines. This stress causes the vines to produce fewer, more concentrated grapes making for greater flavor and aroma complexity, as well as sugar and acid balance. By planting in well-drained soils. The vines pull from a more reduced and constant supply of water. Therefore the vines are rarely inundated with water, which prevents over-swelling of grapes that would make for diluted wines. This water stress encourages the vine’s roots to dig deep and spread out in order to access the deeper, purer underground water sources. The deeper the roots reach, the more varied soil layers will be tapping water from, increasing the complexity of the grape and wine composition exponentially. The soil color, stones and rocks influence how well the soil will retain heat, which is especially crucial for cooler climate viticulture because it aids in ripening. The darker the earth, and the more stones present, the greater the heat retention. In some regions low on sum, the stones are used to reflect the sunlight onto the vines! The soil’s acidity will also be reflected in the wine. Viticulturalists and winemakers have long observed that the soil also contributes to the aroma and flavor profiles, as well as the structure and even longevity, of a wine and this concept is one of the most important contributing factors which lead to the notion of ‘terroir’. Terroir is the French term now used internationally to indicate not only the landscape and soil composition of a vineyard, but also factoring in influences of the local climate, the mesoclimate (that of a specific vineyard plot, which can vary within a few yards), sunshine days, and prevailing winds. In true French romanticism, the winemaker will often subscribe some other factors to his terroir as being the unique difference attribute of the vineyard, making his wine impossible to replicate anywhere else.

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