Defining terroir

Defining terroir
Jon Flores

Written by Jon Flores

Education and Experience Lead

Terroir (pronounced /terˈwär/) is a French term used widely in the wine industry and refers to the unique combination of environmental factors that give a particular place its distinctive character and flavor, such as soil, climate, and topography. In the context of winemaking, terroir is the concept that the characteristics of a wine can be traced back to the specific vineyard where the grapes were grown.

At the Sunstone estate, the terroir is characterized in part by a combination of its sandy loam soils, warm daytime temperatures, and a cool persistent ocean breeze. The soil is composed of well-drained, mineral-rich Ballard sandy loam, which provides the vines with essential nutrients for growth. The warm temperatures promote grape ripening and sugar production, while the cooling ocean breeze helps to preserve the wine’s natural acidity and reduce disease pressure. The Sunstone’s unique orientation at the Southern end of the valley allows for consistently large fluctuations from daytime low to high temperatures.

This combination of environmental factors creates a unique opportunity for producing high-quality wines from the estate including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and most notably Merlot. Each of these grape varieties benefit from the unique combination of soil, climate, and topography found at the Sunstone estate. Sunstone also purchases grapes from various exceptional growing sites throughout the county; taking into consideration the terroir of these sites when making grape growing and winemaking decisions.

In addition to the environmental factors, the winemaking philosophy at Sunstone plays a role in shaping the terroir. We believe in using sustainable and organic methods in the vineyard as well as the winery and use minimal intervention in the winemaking process. The result of this combination of environmental factors and winemaking philosophy is a range of high-quality, terroir-driven wines that reflect the unique character and flavor of the Sunstone estate.