Where to plant?

May 30th, 2018 | Galicia

A few weeks ago I took a photo of a guy in the middle of a forest, close to our bodega, cutting trees and making a clearing. Little did I know at that moment that his plan was to plant a small vineyard – but it did start me thinking. Was there any logic whatsoever behind the site that he selected, or was it just a small plot of land where he fancied growing a few grapes? I rather suspect it was the latter.

I have asked myself this question many times, about the seemingly random situation of many of our Rias Baixas vineyards, and how they actually come to be selected. My guess is that, for the vast majority, it is more about convenience than making any type of detailed study to find the best site. This could explain why, in a denomination of only 4,000 hectares, there are nearly 22,000 different vineyard sites!

In the wine business we talk about ‘Terroir’, which many think is simply related to the soil on which a vine is planted, but I can tell you that it is actually much, much more complex than that. Terroir is a combination of factors, including nearly every physical aspect of a vineyard location that you can think of – soil, soil type, drainage, aspect, sun exposure, local rainfall, protection/shade, wind, sea mists etc., etc. All of the individual components that will ultimately determine why the quality of one grape varies from another (assuming that they have been properly cared for).

My photo shows this new planting, bathed in a bit of early morning sun. But what the photo doesn’t tell you is that this location is one of the coldest corners of Ribadumia. The vineyard is on a north facing slope, and apart from this brief touch of sun, it will spend the rest of the day shrouded by trees, with almost no direct sunlight and very little warmth. In a few years I will be interested to explore what it produces.

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