Delineation of within-site terroir effects using soil and vine water measurements in Riesling vineyards within the Niagara Peninsula
Willwerth, James Joseph
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The major focus of this dissertation was to explain terroir effects that impact wine varietal character and to elucidate potential determinants of terroir by testing vine water status (VWS) as the major factor of the terroir effect. It was hypothesized that consistent water status zones could be identified within vineyard sites, and, that differences in vine performance, fruit composition and wine sensory attributes could be related to VWS. To test this hypothesis, ten commercial Riesling vineyards representative of each Vintners Quality Alliance sub-appellation were selected. Vineyards were delineated using global positioning systems and 75 to 80 sentinel vines per vineyard were geo-referenced for data collection. During the 2005 to 2007 growing seasons, VWS measurements [midday leaf water potential ('l')] were collected from a subset of these sentinel vines. Data were collected on soil texture and composition, soil moisture, vine performance (yield components, vine size) and fruit composition. These variables were mapped using global information system (GIS) software and relationships between them were elucidated. Vines were categorized into "low" and "high" water status regions within each vineyard block and replicate wines were made from each. Many geospatial patterns and relationships were spatially and temporally stable within vineyards. Leaf'l' was temporally stable within vineyards despite different weather conditions during each growing season. Generally, spatial relationships between 'l', soil moisture, vine size, berry weight and yield were stable from year to year. Leaf", impacted fruit composition in several vineyards. Through sorting tasks and multidimensional scaling, wines of similar VWS had similar sensory properties. Descriptive analysis further indicated that VWS impacted wine sensory profiles, with similar attributes being different for wines from different water status zones. Vineyard designation had an effect on wine profiles, with certain sensory and chemical attributes being associated from different subappellations. However, wines were generally grouped in terms of their regional designation ('Lakeshore', 'Bench', 'Plains') within the Niagara Peninsula. Through multivariate analyses, specific sensory attributes, viticulture and chemical variables were associated with wines of different VWS. Vine water status was a major contributor to the terroir effect, as it had a major impact on vine size, berry weight and wine sensory characteristics.