Geologically speaking, the area around the great lakes has a very interesting story. In fact, the land shifted and folded quite frequently and glaciers advanced and retracted unevenly. The result is a very diverse soil whose content may range from sandy to rich in clay. The Windsor region, known as Essex County is constellated with wineries.
Does the soil determine the taste of wine, asks Maria Cioppa, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences? What factors, exactly can help us predict what the wine will taste? Or can we? Cioppa collected and examined the soil of some of the most popular wineries in the area and gathered testimonies from wine makers, two of whom were with us (with samples of course) to discuss these questions. We first “sampled” the soil by passing around trays that contained sandy soil, clay soil, a mix of both etc.. Despite the relative proximity of the location where the collection had been made, the samples had different textures, color, and even smell, the latter ranging from pine trees to rain.
The wine makers reported on the assumptions, the challenges and the sacrifices coming with their profession . Obviously, the production of wine is not merely determined by the soil, or by the terroir alone: given a particular type of soil, a variety of factors will radically alter the results of a batch and will make any prediction regarding the taste or the acidity of a type of wine quite difficult: among these factors, climate is a major one, since weather conditions, the biosphere of the single vineyards and the amount of precipitations affect different types of soils. However, the amount of minerals in the soil and the fertilizers used, the bottling techniques and the type of cork employed are also determinant factors. Ultimately, on top of all these factors, we have to consider the way in which climate change with its unpredictable extremes is going to affect vineyards. We might increase production, we might have completely different result each year, or we might not be able to maintain a sustainable wine production industry in the next few years
Following a wine tasting from a dozen local wineries, it was clear that many of the assumptions surrounding the making of wine taste are myths.