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Great wines come from great soils

MADISON, WI, NOVEMBER 4, 2009 -- The world's greatest wines are the result of a threefold synergy among grape variety, human input, and something called the "terroir" -- a term often defined as the vineyard site, soil, and climate.

Experts will discuss terroir with an emphasis on soil science in a symposium on Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Pittsburgh. "Terroir: Winegrapes and the Environment" will be presented in two parts at the 2009 Annual Meetings of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) in Pittsburgh, PA.

The symposium will feature a variety of experts who will discuss the complex interaction of grapes, viticulture, and soil needed to produce a great wine. The symposium could very well be called, "How Great Wines Come from Great Soils," as these experts will emphasize soil science in their presentations on "terroir," and will touch upon factors such as soil surface color, soil drainage, and chemical soil composition. Among the experts presenting papers in Pittsburgh will be:

  • Thomas Rice, professor of Soil Science at California Polytechnic State University, who has studied soil chemistry and viticulture, and soil resource inventories of vineyards.

  • Amy Richards, soil scientist, CRC for Irrigation Futures/Fosters Group, who conducts work into managing root-zone salinity in premium, drip irrigated viticulture systems and the effect of salt on vine performance dependent on winter rainfall.

  • James Fisher, Soil Solutions LLC, who is a soil scientist and a certified Associate Professional Agronomist. He specializes in vineyard soils and viticulture.

The first portion of the symposium will be presented on Nov. 4 as nine oral paper presentations from 12:45 to 4:00 pm in Room 413, David L. Lawrence Convention Center. To view the full schedule, abstracts, and authors, visit:

The second portion of the symposium on Nov. 4 will be six poster paper presentations from 4:00 to 6:00 pm in the Exhibit Hall, David L. Lawrence Convention Center. To view the abstracts and authors for these papers, visit:

Past studies of terroir have concentrated on the flavor components of the wine as related to the vineyard environment. For example, wine evaluators have tasted wines made by the same winemaker from Syrah grapes grown in different regions: and the wines tasted completely different; therefore, these sorts of site-specific or regional differences are at the heart of the terroir concept being presented at the ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meetings.


Contact: Sara Uttech
American Society of Agronomy

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