Development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) for Sustainable Viticulture Tailored to Terroir

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Dr. Pat Bowen
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A conceptual model developed by PARC researchers (see below) has formed the basis of GIS research to find viticultural and enological practices that optimally interact with terroir to maximize vineyard performance. New components to be added to the model are in keeping with the BCWGC’s new Sustainable Practices initiative. These include the natural ecology within and surrounding vineyards as components of terroir; and environmental sustainability in equal partnership with economic sustainability as performance goals of viticulture and enology (management).  In previous GIS research conducted by PARC researchers a database was developed for Okanagan and Similkameen valley vineyard varietal blocks and their associated terroir and viticultural characteristics (Bowen et al. 2005). Through analyses of these data, growing regions (sub-appellations) were defined and influences of management practices and terroir on fruit and wine quality were revealed. Other outputs of the research included definitions of varietal suitability to growing regions; effects of terroir and management on fruit composition and wine flavour and aroma; and provision to growers of vineyard maps overlain with soil characteristics to guide irrigation and fertility management (Bowen 2006).  A demonstration of distinct differences in flavour, aroma and mouth-feel of Merlot wines due to region of origin was one of the first scientific analysis worldwide clearly demonstrating terroir influences on wine sensory quality.

Dr. Pat Bowen, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Summerland Research and Development Centre.

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