Chapter 4

Vineyard Site Selection

(book excerpts)

Vineyard site selection is probably the most important, fundamental, irreversible decision in the life of a vineyard. It takes several years to develop and establish a vineyard and for the vines to produce a regular crop of grapes with the vineyard remaining productive for many decades. Although the grapevine can grow in many places, its successful cultivation for quality wine production is limited to sites where specific characteristics and conditions occur and the necessary management practices can be achieved. The main factors affecting vines, their development and annual cycle of growth, and the crop produced each year include: physical environment (e.g., landform, altitude, slope, aspect, natural & built features, soils, nutrients, water, and drainage); natural phenomena (e.g., climate, heat summations, seasonal variations, longer term cycles and fluctuations, weather & hazards); viticulture and vineyard management (e.g., selection of sites, design and layout of vineyards, varieties and rootstocks, infrastructures and services such as irrigation). All of thee factors contribute to the terroir of a region’s wine. Terroir (pronounced tair-wahr) is a French concept in which a complex interplay of physical factors and cultural influences interact to define the wine styles and quality that come from any vineyard site or region.

Click on the following topics for more information on vineyard site selection.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • Climate
  • Classification of Climates
  • Large Bodies of Water Influence on Climate
  • Components of Climate
  • Temperature
  • Diurnal Temperature Variation
  • Maximum Summer Temperatures
  • Minimum Winter Temperatures
  • Frost Potential
  • Solar Radiation
  • Rainfall
  • Humidity
  • Wind
  • Evaporation
  • Temperature-based Metrics for Assessing Sites
  • Growing Degree Days
  • Latitude Temperature Index
  • Frost-free Days
  • Spring Frost Index
  • Average Growing Season Temperature
  • Global Warming
  • Historical Observations of Wine Region Climates
  • Implications
  • Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
  • Canopy Management
  • Irrigation Efficiency
  • Mid-row Management
  • Rootstocks
  • Variety Choice
  • Vineyard Design
  • Topography
  • Elevation
  • Relative Elevation
  • Latitude
  • Slope
  • Aspect
  • Southern-facing Aspects
  • Western-facing Aspects
  • Eastern-facing Aspects
  • Northern-facing Aspects
  • Soils for Grapes
  • USDA Soil Survey Maps
  • Mapping Soil Electrical Conductivity
  • Electrical Conductivity
  • Evaluating Soil Properties
  • Excavating Soil Profiles to Evaluate Soils
  • Preplant Soil Sampling
  • Evaluating Physical and Chemical Soil Properties
  • Physical Properties
  • Chemical Properties
  • Precision Viticulture
  • Water Requirements and Quality
  • Requirements
  • Quality
  • Organic Certification Site Requirements
  • Selected References