Soil bacteria define wine terroir

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9 April 2015
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In a recent research highlight in Nature, VOL 520, p.8, the influential role of soil bacteria on wine properties was revealed.

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois sequenced the bacterial genomes of both soils and grapevines from five Merlot vineyards in Long Island, New York.

They discovered that the bacterial communities on various vine plant parts were very close to those in the soil suggesting that the ‘terroir’ is a key bacterial reservoir for grapevines.

Their findings also showed that the composition of the ‘core’ microbial populations in Long Island were shared with grapevines in California and Bordeaux in France.

It is perhaps not surprising to wine producers, oenologists and drinkers that ‘terroir’ influences wine characteristics so much but this new data shows a direct link between ‘soil biology’ and the properties of wine made from the grapes grown in them.

“In the ‘International Year of Soils’ this is a marvellous example of how both soil chemistry and nutrition might be interacting positively with soil biology in the production of great wines like Merlot” says Dr Kevin Moran of Kemnovation Ltd.

“Furthermore it exemplifies the continuity between soil health and crop quality which is becoming a very important consideration for sustaining productivity of the limited soils we have to work with in future” he says.

Here’s a toast to ‘International Year of Soils’!

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