Microbial Terroir

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

While there is now greater understanding of the roles played by soil, geology, climate, and viticulture in terroir and its expression in wine, the study of vineyard microbiology, in the soil and on the berries, and its influence on wine quality and flavour is just beginning.

Recent research suggests that fungi and bacteria found on grape skins, including the yeasts that play a part in spontaneous fermentation, may also contribute to terroir. In California, Bokulich et al. demonstrated that region and site—notably climate—as well as grape variety play a role in determining the fungal and bacterial populations found in must. Research by Gayevskiy and Goddard and by Taylor et al. in New Zealand revealed regional differences both in fungal communities on ripe Chardonnay and in indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae populations found in spontaneous ferments. Subsequent and related research has suggested a link between these regionally distinct yeasts and wine composition.