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TitleMessage in a bottle: the wine terroir concept in Canada, from an earth sciences perspective
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorHamblin, A P
SourceGeological Survey of Canada, Open File 8365, 2018, 62 pages, Open Access logo Open Access
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
Documentopen file
Mediaon-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceCanada; British Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut; Canada
NTS1; 2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114O; 114P; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
Lat/Long WENS-141.0000 -50.0000 90.0000 41.7500
Subjectsgeneral geology; surficial geology/geomorphology; Agriculture; hydrogeology; soils; soil studies; climate; climate effects; bedrock geology; lithology; sediments; topography; history; groundwater; Wine; Wine industry; Viticulture; Biology; Phanerozoic
Illustrationsphotographs; location maps
ProgramGeoscience for New Energy Supply (GNES) Program Coordination
Released2018 09 13
AbstractGeology is an important, but less-recognized, scientific factor in the agriculture of long-lived, deep-rooted plant crops such as vineyards, orchards and forests. This report focusses on the concept of vineyard agriculture as one example of how geological factors may affect a resulting crop. While acknowledging the pre-eminence of climatic factors, Earth Science forms part of the multi-factor, holistic concept of “terroir”, which can help to maximize the potential of wine quality in a cool-climate country like Canada. Key publications, such as Wallace (1972), Wilson (1998), the series launched by Haynes (1999), and Macqueen and Meinert (2006) have emphasized the role of geology in the terroir concept and set the scene for further study. Thinking conceptually, from the ground upward, the main components of the Terroir concept can be divided into: 1) Geological (bedrock geology, surficial geology, soil, groundwater, topography and bodies of water); 2) Climatological (latitude, macro-climate, rainfall, sunshine, temperature and micro-climate); 3) Biological (vineyard age, grape varietal, microorganisms, nutrients and yeast); and, 4) Agricultural (viticultural techniques, management practices) (although this last is not dealt with in this report).
While not an exhaustive study, this report is meant to bring together and organize a preliminary summary of relevant information and sources, in order to suggest areas of study where geoscience may be able to contribute to improved understanding. Although this report focusses on wine terroir, the principles are equally applicable to other, similar long-lived, deep-rooted plant systems such as fruit orchards (particularly cider production, which is closely-related to wine-making), olive orchards and forests. Each of the terroir factors (including the geological ones) needs to be studied, and new understanding improved and applied within each wine region and sub-region of Canada, to maximize the potential for quality wine from our northern, cool-climate, constantly-evolving wine industry.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Although climate is the most important factor determining the viability of vineyard growth in Canada, the Terroir concept (developed in Europe) suggests that the geology of the bedrock, subsoil and soil that perennial, deep-rooted vines are planted in can also be vital factors in determining the success of this $6.8 billion agricultural industry in Canada. This report uses the wine terroir concept as one example of how geological understanding can be important in agricultural success, by providing some background, and detailing the kinds of earth science knowledge which should be considered. Incidentally, perennial, deep-rooted forests and fruit orchards are additional crops where the terroir concept may be applicable. This report is meant to be an introduction, to be followed by a series of more detailed studies of the geology of individual wine-growing regions in Canada.

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