Original research articles

Terroir and precision viticulture: are they compatible ?


Aims: The aims of this work were to see whether the traditional regionallybased view of terroir is supported by our new ability to use the tools of Precision Viticulture to acquire detailed measures of vineyard productivity, soil attributes and topography at high spatial resolution.

Methods and Results: A range of sources of spatial data (yield mapping, remote sensing, digital elevation models), along with data derived from hand sampling of vines were used to investigate within-vineyard variability in vineyards in the Sunraysia and Padthaway regions of Australia. Zones of characteristic performance were identified within these vineyards. Sensory analysis of fruit and wines derived from these zones confirm that contrasting wines may derive from different areas within the same, uniformly-managed vineyard.

Conclusions: The performance of vineyards is variable whether yield, fruit quality, wine quality, wine style or value is the measure of interest. The tools of Precision Viticulture enable both growers, winemakers and researchers to see that within vineyards deemed characteristic of a region, terroir is spatially variable at the within-vineyard scale.

Significance and impact of the study: Whilst precision viticulture raises questions about the utility of the concept of terroir at regional scales, it has much to offer in promoting robust understanding of the impacts of soil and land attributes on grape and wine production, and thus, how management practices might be modified to gain greater control over fruit and wine quality. Accordingly, at least some of the elements of terroir can be considered to be manageable.


Robert G. V. Bramley


Affiliation : CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Food Futures Flagship and Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture PMB No. 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia

R. P. Hamilton

Affiliation : Foster's Wine Estates, PO Box 96, Magill, SA 5072, Australia


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