Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
06.08.2010  
 

Columbia Valley Terroir Goes to Italy

Washington state researcher will describe the wine region's basalt-based soils at international congress

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
Columbia River Gorge basalt cliffs
 
The imposing basalt cliffs that form the Columbia River Gorge. Photo courtesy Cave B Estate Winery.
Walla Walla, Wash. -- Washington state claims for itself, “the perfect climate for wine,” but Whitman College instructor Dr. Kevin Pogue will travel to Italy later this week to highlight Columbia Valley terroir’s contribution to growing conditions, too.

Pogue presents a paper about the influence of basalt on the terroir of the Columbia Valley AVA at the VIII International Terroir Congress in Soave, Italy, on June 14-18. His paper focuses on the effects this distinctive igneous rock (predominant in the Columbia Basin) has on vines, specifically with respect to soil temperature, cluster temperature, vine chemistry and other attributes.

Kevin Pogue
 
Kevin Pogue
Basalt is relatively rare in vineyards of the world, Pogue notes in the paper; viticultural areas with basalt soils include the Canary Islands, the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, south-central France, northern Italy and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The palisades above Napa Valley on Mt. St. Helena are columnar basalt.

Typically, basalt occurs where volcanic activity was or is common. In the case of the Columbia Valley and the Pacific Northwest, basalt  erupted more than 5 million years ago and today is covered by loess deposited during the glacial inundations known as the Missoula floods, between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago.

Pogue’s paper concludes that the chemical and thermal properties of basalt in the soils of the Columbia Valley have a significant influence on the AVA’s terroir.

“Vineyards within the Columbia Valley AVA covered by fractured basalt bedrock or basalt-rich alluvium have higher average ground surface and subsurface temperatures than their grass-covered counterparts,” the paper’s conclusion notes. “The extra heat is derived from infrared radiation from the sun-warmed dark-colored basalt, not from conduction from heated air.”

The paper also notes that vineyards planted on basalt bedrock should show an elevated iron content, due to the availability of iron here versus in the loess. “I hope to get our area in the spotlight a little bit while I’m over there,” Pogue told Wines & Vines.

This year’s conference currently has 147 registrants from 21 countries, but Pogue said it hasn’t typically attracted a lot of attention in the U.S. Just three U.S. researchers attended the previous congress in Switzerland. This year, Dr. Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University is on its scientific committee.
Norm McKibbin
 
Norm McKibbin
 
Norm McKibben of SeVein Vineyards in the Walla Walla AVA, which lies entirely within the Columbia Valley, says Pogue’s research provides a better understanding of local growing conditions. “We do get a flavor change,” says McKibben, who opened his vineyards to Pogue for research.

But he adds that the influence of basalt is just one of several factors at play in his properties, which include the SeVein properties south of Walla Walla towards the Oregon line, and Les Collines, which sits at a higher elevation in the foothills of the Blue Mountains east of the city.

“You really have to taste it quite a bit in different regions to tell whether you’re getting the results of older vines giving a little better flavor or the basalt, or the vineyard manager changing his approach a little bit,” he says. “There’s no question in my mind that the basalt does help, but I can’t say that all of a sudden I can get this flavor of lead pencil in there.”

The fruit off the vineyards pleases winemakers, however, as it offers extra depth to the wines. This is true of Les Collines, which sits just three feet above the basalt rock, whereas the gentle terrain at SeVein sits about 12 feet above the basalt.

McKibben expects Pogue’s presentation to generate some interest in Washington state, where many wineries are showing a growing appreciation for regional differences. The number of AVAs in the state is increasing (two were approved last year alone), and seminars at industry meetings regularly showcase differences from wines made with grapes from different vineyards.

“Anything that draws attention (to our wines) so that people will try them is going to help us,” McKibben says.

The Columbia Valley AVA includes 6,670 acres of vines, primarily at elevations below 400 meters (1,300 feet).
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $546 million
5%
$6,988 million
7%
March 2014 $572 million $7,451 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $177 million
20%
$1,483 million
10%
March 2014 $213 million $1,634 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 253
15%
166
27%
March 2014 292 210
     
 
MORE » Released on 04.14.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • April 17
     
    SSU Spring Business Mixer
     
  • April 17
     
    Temecula Grape Day Conference
     
  • April 18
     
    WineFlavor 101B: Nitrogen Management from Vine to Wine
     
  • April 19
     
    Appellation St. Helena food pairing competition
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: What to Do About Red Blotch »
 
There is NO correlation with planting density. Also FPS is working on the problem. New...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Premiere Wine Auction Nets $5.9 million »
 
Thanks for letting us know Janet, we've updated the story. Cheers
Reader: Andrew Adams
 
Article: Will Barrels Go the Way of Floppy Disks? »
 
Fun piece. Particularly enjoyed the three clearly superior attributes of standard barrels, including looking cool...
Reader: Tom Gable
 
Article: Premiere Wine Auction Nets $5.9 million »
 
Nice article. It was a great event! Just noticed a few typos with the vintages: The...
Reader: Janet Viader
 
Article: Cornell Shows Off New Teaching Winery »
 
Why would any teaching facility possibly need nonstandard equipment such as tiny Scharffenberger presses and...
Reader: Craig Winchell
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Bar Back
 Santa Rosa, CA
General Administration and
 Bar Back
 Glen Ellen, CA
General Administration and
 No Ca District Manager
 Sfo Metro, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Sales Ass...
 Yountville, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Concierge/Guest Relati...
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Seasonal Cellar, Lab &...
 Santa Rosa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Central Regional Sales...
 Eugene, OR
Sales and Marketing
 On-Call Event Services...
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Host/Wine...
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Winemaking Information...
 Cloverdale, CA
Winemaking and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.