Wine is Shaped by the Shape of the Land

Wine is shaped by the shape of the landVariations in landforms have a lot to do with the taste of your wine.  The shape of the land, in combination with winds and moisture, creates microclimates.  And, winemakers look at microclimates to grow the perfect grapes for their style of wine.

Altitude affects temperature.  Obviously, the higher you go, the cooler the weather.  This means that grapes grown at higher altitudes have longer to ripen on the vine.  This gives the grapes a stronger flavor.

Hilly slopes are usually a bit rocky.  This gives the soil good drainage, which grapes need.  Slopes also have stronger light.  It sounds crazy, but flatlands aren’t good for grapes.  Why?  The soil is simply too fertile!

Grapes that are grown in the northern hemisphere on slopes that face south have considerably more sunlight.  This makes the grapes warmer.  (The opposite directions are true in the southern hemisphere.)  In hot areas, the cool slopes are usually cultivated.

Some of the best red wines in Wine Country are grown up steep, rocky slopes that have no irrigation.  In Sonoma and Napa, most of these grapes were planted generations ago.  The land might not produce as much, but the grapes go to winemakers for a hefty price.  The flavor is rich, full, and unbeatable!

Writer: Meredith Blevins, featured travel writer for the Authentic Wine Country.  Join her at for wine-country mysteries, classes, and the untamed west.

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