“Working the Land” (Viticulture)

As with sparkling wines, there is little in terms of bespoke viticulture or grape-growing practices specific to rosé. Not unlike still/table wines, decisions as to variety, clone, planting density, pruning methods, climate and soils are individually addressed according to the quality desired. Sometimes these wines are by-products of red wine production (rosé wines made using the saignée technique); sometimes they are produced with dedicated intent (i.e. managed maceration of red wine skins with fermenting must); occasionally they are serendipitous, unintentional mistakes. However, in the end, the reality is that there are simply no specific studies that have focused on viticulture explicitly for rosé wine production.

Working The Land

Does soil influence the flavor of the final wine?

Traditionalists answer unequivocally “Yes!” Soil is a key element of “terroir,” the natural environment in which vines grow -- along with climate (temperature, rainfall), topography (altitude, drainage, slope, aspect) and sunlight.

A more unorthodox view holds that the influence of soil on what you taste in the glass is a myth. Maynard Amerine and Ann Noble, two famous names at the University of California, Davis, California’s premier wine school and wine research facility, conducted a study on the topic. Though the study is based on Chardonnay grapes, they concluded that the following holds true for all winegrapes: “no outstanding sensory differences were observed in wines produced from different soil type locations.” The key word is “sensory” (sight, smell, taste): They are not saying that the soil doesn’t affect vine behavior (yield, growth cycle, etc.). 

Soil types in regions where quality rosé wines are produced in California can be as diverse and wide-ranging as wine styles, blends/cuvées, and individual winemakers’ points of view on production. The commonality of these terroirs is that they are selected for their ability to grow excellent quality fruit. We recommend that you check out the “Working the Land” section of the respective grape  varieties to better understand their unique soil preferences.

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Sustainability and California:

The California wine community has a long history of demonstrating a commitment to sound environmental practices and social responsibility. Building on these efforts are the educational and certification programs of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA). Established by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers, the CSWA is the most comprehensive and widely adopted program for wine sustainability practices in the world in terms of acres and cases produced.