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Soil experts to discuss terroir, the link between Earth, wine on Nov. 19 in DC

WASHINGTON DC, NOVEMBER 16, 2009 Experts in soil science and representatives from vineyards from across the United States will present a Congressional educational briefing, "The Essence of Earth and Wine: Terroir" on Thursday, November 19, from 5:30-7:00 pm in 2168 Rayburn House Office Building (Gold Room).

Experts in soil science will shed light on the concept of "terroir" -- how the balance of vineyard management and soil site selection blend together to provide distinctive grapes which can allow for unique wine characteristics. A selection wine from vineyards across the United States will also be sampled during the event.

Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (South Dakota At-Large), a member of the House Agriculture Committee and Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, will begin the briefing, speaking about wine grape production, a developing industry in South Dakota and across the United States.

James Fisher, a soil scientist of Soil Solutions LLC, will explain the criteria used by vineyards to choose the best sites for wine grape production. Soil scientist John Havlin of North Carolina State University, will address soil nutrient management techniques specific to wine grape production. The featured vineyards are:

  • Valiant Vineyards: South Dakota State Representative Eldon Nygaard will speak about his flavorful Wild Grape wine, a product of American vitis riparia discovered on property near the Vermillion River in South Dakota.
  • Shelton Vineyards: Located in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina, this is one of the largest vineyards on the East Coast. John Havlin will speak about the soils as well as Shelton's signature Yadkin Valley Riesling.
  • Waltz Vineyards: Jan Waltz will discuss the geography and soil on his vineyard, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and serve two of Waltz's delectable winesthe Baron Steigel Red and their Old Line Chardonnay.
  • Wines from the state of California: Selections from various wine regions in California, including the Napa and Central Valleys will be available for tasting. Soil scientist James Fisher will also speak about his experiences working with vintners in California.

A "terroir" is a group of vineyards or vines from the same region, sharing a similar geography, soil, climate, grapes, vine management, and wine making tradition, which combine to impart a unique set of wine characteristics. This concept of Terroir was developed in France centuries ago.

"As a co-chair of the Congressional Soils Caucus, I'm looking forward to this briefing which will give members of Congress and their staffs the opportunity to better understand the role soil and soil management play in wine production across the country," Rep. Herseth Sandlin said. "In particular, I'm pleased that Eldon will have the opportunity to provide insight into his wine operation in South Dakota."


Contact: Sara Uttech
American Society of Agronomy

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