The Jan-Feb issue of Vineyard & Winery Management provided an interesting discussion of a familiar, yet hard-to-quantify concept in the wine industry: terroir. The article traced the origin of the word “terroir” in the French language and explained how “terroir” has come to denote high quality thanks to the French AOC system.
When winemakers talk about terroir, they might be referring to a variety of factors influencing wine attributes. Generally, most would regard climate and soil as two key aspects of terroir. Recently scientists have been able to better measure the relative importance of each aspect. Van Leeuwen’s 2002 study, for example, indicates climate plays a superior role relative to soil in determining the influence on terroir.
Another key factor mentioned is scale. An AOC may cover a huge winegrowing region with countless varieties of climate, soil types, and techniques. In fact, the variances within the same vineyard alone can be quite overwhelming. As Mike Trought (Lincoln University, New Zealand) said, “even within a vineyard, marked differences in fruit composition can be recognized in adjacent vines”.
This is consistent with what Fruition’s observed on client sites. Oftentimes, vine physiology and fruit composition can vary significantly within a vineyard due to microclimate differences. To address this problem, we use plant-based measurements and whole vineyard mapping techniques to help growers develop a nuanced understanding of their “terroir” and determine appropriate approaches at the block level.
Terra Clima, our new offering, provides a way for winegrowers to characterize microclimates existing in the vineyard in terms of temperature.
Sample Growing Degree Days (GDD) map provided by Terra Clima
In a typical Terra Clima deployment, we place temperature sensors on the plant at key locations in the vineyard. The sensor readings are used to produce a map of climatic indices that our clients can access from our Fruition Analytics software. This map not only captures the heat accumulation due to unique microclimatic conditions but also reflect the effects of vineyard topography on the highest and lowest temperatures.
This information could be used for a variety of purposes such as predicting plant development rates and discovering areas of unique aroma potential. Most importantly, with this information, winegrowers can identify areas of similar temperatures and develop targeted heat management strategies in real-time, in addition to simply relying on visual cues.
Learn more about Terra Clima here.