Among other elements of the natural environment, soil greatly influences vine behaviour and berry composition. Its influence is complex, because soil affects vine water and mineral uptake, as well as temperature in the root zone. In this research, investigations were undertaken to assess whether vine development and grape quality potentiel could be linked to specific soil types. 15 dry farmed plots planted with Vitis vinifera L. cv. Grenache noir were studied in 2000 on five soil types of the Southern Côtes du Rhône (France). No clear relationship could be established between soil type, vine growth, yield and berry composition. However, vine water and nitrogen status were related to soil depth. On shallow soils, vine water and nitrogen status were low, which resulted in early shoot growth cessation and moderate yield, as well as high berry sugar and anthocyanin content. Severe water stress is known for affecting negatively berry ripening. Nevertheless, although this study was carried out under dry, Mediterranean conditions, the grapes with the highest potential for making quality red wines were obtained on the soils with the lowest water holding capacity.
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