An Illustrated Guide To The Most Important Wine Soils You Should Know (Infographic)

Wednesday, 1 November, 2017
vinepair.com, Courtney Schiessl
Wine nerds are often also soil nerds. Soil directly and indisputably affects the wine that is produced in a given region. In addition to climate and aspect, soil is part of what makes a region’s terroir and can separate mediocre winemaking areas from superior ones.

The Dirty Guide to Wine, a newly published book by award-winning journalist and author Alice Feiring with Pascaline Lepeltier, MS, explores the complexities of soil and its impact on wine. It’s an important read for anyone passionate or curious about wine and terroir. Having recently read the book, I was inspired to learn more about soil and share that with VinePair readers.

Breaking soil down into singular categories is quite difficult. Most vineyard topsoils are not homogenous; rather, they are often a blend of different soils, and both the rocks within and the texture of the topsoil influence a region’s wines. The concept of minerality - that is, the perceived aroma and flavor of a soil in the wine itself - is another factor. But, in terms of the actual successful growth of a grapevine, some soils work better than others.

While certain soil characteristics are suited to different regions, generally vineyard soils should not be too fertile. This may seem counterintuitive, but soils with fewer nutrients force vines to struggle and therefore become stronger. Water is also essential to grapevines, so good wine soils should retain water while still draining it away from the surface.

For those of us without a geology degree, VinePair created a helpful illustrated guide for an overview of the many soil types worldwide.

Click here to view the infographic as well as read about the different types of soils.

Thomas Davidson

Thomas joined wine.co.za in May 2019 after graduating from Stellenbosch University with a BA in History & Ancient Cultures and completing a certificate in Business Management and Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School in Stellenbosch. He moonlights as a radio presenter at MFM - and has an incredible passion for wine. 
We are delighted to have him on the team.