Soil Quality in Vineyards - eXtension

Mark Chien, Pennsylvania State University

Soil quality is considered by many to be the most important aspect in wine production. However, grapes currently grow around the world on a wide variety of soils. Which tells us that vine plants have adapted to a wide range of soil conditions.

What incredibly complex system is there on the ground under your feet that is able to determine the quality of the wine ?

The soil of the vineyards should be evaluated considering all the surrounding context - physical, chemical and biological properties. Finding a balance between these three components, also considering the climate and the adaptation of the plant, constitute the vitiviniculture applied. Other considerations such as slope, slope orientation, elevation or elevation of the site also have indirect effects on the soil and will affect plant physiology. An ideal soil for establishing a vineyard is deep, well drained, with fertility and moderate water retention capacity. Poorly drained soils should be evaluated and considered to improve soil drainage. Soils that are constantly moist due to the presence of impermeable layers like "fragipans" or clay in the subsoil are not suitable to establish a vineyard. Deep and fertile soils are also a challenge to produce quality grapes, since handling the vigor of the plant and the microclimate in the canopy can be difficult.

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Soils for Fine Wine. Robert E. White. 2008. 2nd ed. Winetitles.

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Viticulture: Vol 2. Practices. B.G Coombes and P.R. Dry. Winetitles

Soil Biology Primer. Soil and Water Conservation Society. 2000. NRCS.

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