If Oregon's burgeoning wine industry wasn't on the world map before last week, it certainly is now — or at least, its terroir is.
Led by Southern Oregon University's own Professor Greg Jones, the International Terroir Congress met for the first time ever in the United States — in the Willamette Valley wine region. Viticultural scientists from 22 countries gathered to talk about their research into how terroir affects wine production.
Just what is terroir? Soil plays a large role, but terroir is much more than that. The term refers to the complete natural environment in which wine grapes are grown, including the soil, topography and climate of a particular place that affect the flavors of the wine produced there. It's the basis for the various French wine regions, a system followed here in designating American Viticultural Areas.
Jones is internationally known for his climatology work with vineyards, and was instrumental in bringing the 11th International Terroir Congress to Oregon. Several Southern Oregon winemakers were there, and wines from this part of the state were featured at a meal.
Not surprisingly, climate change was a major topic of discussion, and those in attendance agreed that vineyards must make adjustments in how they handle irrigation and water use, from varietal selections to vine training techniques.
Not content just to discuss their work, the attendees got down to business by examining the soil in 6-foot deep trenches dug into local vineyards for their convenience.
We raise our glass to Jones.