The Terroir Connection

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Terroir, a sense of place.

A vineyard’s terroir is a combination of environmental factors which influence the vine and the grapes grown on the vine which in turn affects the taste of wine. These factors include soil, climate, terrane such as the slope, aspect of the slope and the surrounding flora. The final factor would be the human aspect, how the viticulturist manipulates the vine according to their specific technique.

Every wine region within South Africa has a specific climate (Cool climate or warm climate) which makes it more favourable for certain cultivars to thrive within a specific region for example, the Elgin valley is known for producing world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These are cool climate grape varieties and will not produce the same quality in warmer regions.

Soil is of cause the foundation of producing exceptional wines. South Africa is known for having some of the oldest soils in the world. The soil type, soil temperature, soil drainage capability, soil microorganisms, and water table all influence the taste of the wine in your glass.

Terrain is the angle of the slope, how high or low the vines are planted on the slope, which way the slope is facing as south facing is cooler than north facing slopes. The flora impacts wine directly as well as indirectly. Roses have been planted at the beginning and end of vine rows for many years to pick up on any bugs that might be damaging your vines, the roses then indicated to the viticulturist whether the vines need to be treated or not.

Lastly the influence of a farmer makes all the difference. Is the goal to obtain quality or quantity this will affect the manipulation technique. How the vines are trellised, pruned, sprayed, watered and the application of fertiliser.

All in all terroir creates a sense of place for the vine and the result is a uniquely flavoured wine specific to its area.

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