Terroir 2020 banner
IVES 9 IVES Conference Series 9 Soil monoliths, soil variability and terroir

Soil monoliths, soil variability and terroir


Aim: The aim of this work is educating people about soil variability and terroir. Soil monoliths are used to educate the wine industry about how to describe a soil profile, interpret the soil formation processes operating in a particular soil profile and consequently the impact of soil properties on vine growth, fruit quality and wine production. Soil monoliths are a permanent artistic tool for educating, research and management of soil variability.  

Method and Results: Soil profiles have a unique genetic combination of layers resulting from physical, chemical and biological processes in a landscape. Soil monoliths are permanent intact visual artistic examples of the changes in a landscape and reflect the history of soil development in unique locations. Three examples are presented from a property on Western Fleurieu Peninsula South Australia. The property is 40 ha, has average rainfall 500 mm, no water supply and elevation ranging from 80 m to 140 m above sea level. It is proposed to establish a portion of the property to bush vines.  Soil monoliths and one open soil pit show the key soil types.  

Soil 1 consists of 40 cm sand over massive yellow-brown sandy clay (Sodosol – Australian Soil Classification).  Soil 2 consists of sandy clay loam over red structured clay mixed with soil carbonate (calcic Red Chromosol – Australian Soil Classification).  Soil 3 consists of dark sandy clay loam over soil carbonate and calcareous weathered shale (Calcarosol – Australian Soil Classification). Planting of bush vines is being considered for Soil 2. This soil is at 90-100 m elevation above sea level with a north-west aspect. There is no water supply and the vines will need to be established dry grown. Readily available water holding capacity (RAW) for the soil is 45 mm and rootzone 60 cm.  This site has a friable angular blocky structured B horizon allow water and vine root penetration. There is no saline soil or major soil carbonate limitation that occurs with Soil 1 and Soil 3 respectively.     


Soil monoliths are a permanent intact section of soil that can be used for education, artistic display, research and management of soil changes over time. They can be collected from all parts of a landscape to show soil variability and terroir.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Soil profile characterisation is essential to all forms of agriculture and horticulture.  Understanding how soil variability impacts on vine root growth, fruit quality and wine production is the essence of Terroir.  Soil monoliths are a permanent, intact representation of soil variability and are useful for education, research and management of soil.  They are artistic and can convey the importance of soil properties in a visual, tactile manner.


Publication date: March 17, 2021

Issue: Terroir 2020

Type: Video


Geoff Kew1*

1Kew Wetherby Soil Survey Pty Ltd, Second Valley, South Australia, Australia, 5204

Contact the author


Soil monolith, soil variability, soil profile description, soil horizon, field hand texture, soil structure


IVES Conference Series | Terroir 2020


Related articles…

Physiological and growth reaction of Shiraz/101-14 Mgt to row orientation and soil water status

Advanced knowledge on grapevine row orientation is required to improve establishment, management and outcomes of vineyards on terroirs with different environmental conditions (climate, soil, topography) and in view of a future change to more extreme climatic conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine the combined effect of row orientation, plant water status and ripeness level on the physiological and viticultural reaction of Shiraz/101-14 Mgt.

Effects of mechanical leafing and deficit irrigation on Cabernet Sauvignon grown in warm climate of California

San Joaquin Valley accounts for 40% of wine grape acreage and produces 70% of wine grape in California. Fruit quality is one of most important factors which impact the economical sustainability of farming wine grapes in this region. Due to the recent drought and expected labor cost increase, the wine industry is thrilled to understand how to improve fruit quality while maintaining the yield with less water and labor input. The present study aims to study the interactive effects of mechanical leafing and deficit irrigation on yield and berry compositions of Cabernet Sauvignon grown in warm climate of California.

The effects of cane girdling on berry texture properties and the concentration of some aroma compounds in three table grape cultivars

The marketability of the table grapes is highly influenced by the consumer demand; therefore the market value of the table grapes is mainly characterized by its berry size, colour, taste and texture. Girdling could cause accumulation of several components in plants above the ringing of the phloem including clusters and resulting improved maturity. The aim of the experiments was to examine the effect of girdling on berry texture characteristics and aroma concentration.

Application of a fluorescence-based method to evaluate the ripening process and quality of Pinot Blanc grape

The chemical composition of grape berries at harvest is one of the most important factors that should be considered to produce high quality wines. Among the different chemical classes which characterize the grape juice, the polyphenolic compound, such as flavonoids, contribute to the final taste and color of wines. Recently, an innovative non-destructive method, based on chlorophyll fluorescence, was developed to estimate the phenolic maturity of red grape varieties through the evaluation of anthocyanins accumulated in the berry skin. To date, only few data are available about the application of this method on white grape varieties.

Different yield regulation strategies in semi-minimal-pruned hedge (SMPH) and impact on bunch architecture

Yields in the novel viticulture training system Semi-Minimal-Pruned Hedge (SMPH) are generally higher compared to the traditional Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP). Excessive yields have a negative impact on the vine and wine quality, which can result in substantial losses in yield in subsequent vintages (alternate bearing) or penalties in fruit quality. Therefore yield regulation is essential. The bunch architecture in SMPH differs from VSP. Generally there is a higher amount but smaller bunches with lower single berry weights in SMPH compared to VSP.