Here we explain what Terroir above the ground is and discuss its influence on your wine

Terroir – what happens above the ground?

Terroir above the ground is about how a vineyard’s climate, aspect and terrain affect the taste of wine.

There are two basic types of climate – warm and cool. Grapes from warmer climates produce sugar levels that are higher leading to higher alcohol wines, whereas grapes from cooler climates with less sunshine and heat throughout the year have lower sugar levels and retain more natural acidity because of the weather. Natural acidity is a good thing if you are a wine maker as it helps create a harmony of the key elements in a well-balanced wine.

So, climate plays an important role in the expression of terroir in the characteristics of wine.

Wine Characteristic Cool Climate Intermediate toWarm Climate Warm toHot Climate
Fruit Style Lean, Tart Ripe, Juicy Overripe, Lush
White Flavours Apple, Pear Peach, Melon Mango, Pineapple
Red Flavours Cranberry, Cherry Berry, Plum Fig, Prune
Body Light Medium Full
Acidity Crisp, Tangy Integrated Soft, Smooth
Alcohol Low to Moderate Moderate to High High to Very High
Overall Style Subtle, Elegant Medium Intensity Bold

Table source: Guildsomm – Climate, grapes and wine


Altitude is also an important factor for vineyards as are factors such as geological features (such as mountains and valleys), other plants and water. Each will affect how wine from a particular vineyard and region tastes.

‘Treat ‘em mean’!

Treating vines with a degree of meanness ensures they struggle. This in turn ensures the vine focuses on the production of fruit, that is, the grapes (which are the seeds required for their survival).

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