The dirt on vineyard soil

Jamie Goode looks at some of the issues of soil management, now understood to be a critical element of the vineyard.

Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash
Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

One of the big shifts in wine has been the increasing emphasis on soils. Wandering through vineyards is now treacherous because they are full of holes designed to show off the soil profile. Where the winemaker used to be god, it’s now said wine is made in the vineyard. 

Interesting debates have emerged. How to manage weed growth in the vineyard? The common herbicide glyphosate is now demonised, with many preferring to till the soil instead. But there’s also an argument that tilling the soil isn’t sustainable either and no-till is the best way.

What of ‘dead’ soils? Soil life is praised as being important — but what about arid areas where there’s very little organic material in the soil? Can they make good wine? 

Third, there’s the thorny issue of copper use. Downy mildew is a widespread problem and those who work organically use copper to treat it, because of the lack of effective alternatives. How bad is copper for the soil?

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