Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Good Wines Begin with Good Soils

Good wines begin with good soils

Imagine a giant ice dam bursting, a dam that is miles high and wide. Suddenly this releases a 2000 foot deep wall of water, ice and rocks, roaring along at 60 miles an hour, beginning in Montana and ending up at the Columbia Basin, where the Columbia River heads west to the ocean. This wall carves gorgeous landscapes and floating giant erratic boulders as it thunders along, as recent as 10,000 years ago. This is awesome,  Perfectly. insIpiringly awesome.

Geologic cataclysms such as this are why parts of Washington State have rich and varied soils that drain well and are perfect for growing perfect grapes that become delightful wines. It is also why when in Eastern Washington you will see an enormous boulder sitting in the middle of the of a field. The boulder, called a glacial erratic, surfed down on giant ice rafts during the glacial ice age floods, as this event has become known. The cliffs along the Columbia River Gorge weren't smoothly worn down over time, the types of rock found and patterns created tell us they were from a series of tremendous events, the ice age floods.

These events carved out the Columbia River, and gave us the deep soils that form the foundation of the fertile valleys of Walla Walla and Willamette Valley, top grape producers and wine making areas of the Pacific Northwest. 
These soils from the terroir, or regional identities of these soils. 
These are soils layers from the Ice Age Floods

This canyon was exposed by a irrigation flood on a farmer's land in Walla Walla Valley

Walla Walla makes great wines because the part of the glacial floods create very light soils and silt. This canyon is in Lowdon, Washington, between Touchet and Walla Walla.

An irrigation overflow washed away soils and exposed these cliffs an amazing illustration of the glacial activity that occurred as recent as 12,000 years ago. Good wines begin with good soils. 

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