Geopedological and climatic zoning of northern Malaga vineyards region: Fuente de Piedra, Humilladero and Mollina (southern Spain)

The vineyards placed in the municipal areas of Fuente de Piedra, Humilladero and Mollina constitute a wine-growing important area of the “Zona Norte” of the province of Málaga. Its products are protected by the Regulatory Council of the Origin Denomination “Málaga”, ” Sierras de Málaga ” and ” Pasas de Málaga”. A study of viticultural zoning of the areas belonging to those municipalities, in which diverse varieties of recommended and/or authorized grapevines are cultivated, have been realized taking in consideration principally geological, pedological and climatic characteristics.
In the region, the formations of the Mid Subbetico -constituted by limy materials of different facies- dates of the Jurassic Period mainly, and they are the original constituents of the mountainous zones with altitudes superior to 500 m a.s.l.; from North to South they form La Camorra (686 m), Sierra Mollina (796 m) and Sierra de Humilladero (656 m). The lower zones have altitudes less than 450 m. They are constituted by karstic areas, that operate of sink of the Fuente de Piedra lagoon; by the Quaternary low areas associated with this one; by those areas of the edge of the fluvial valley that feeds it, and by the southeastern edge of the municipal area of Mollina, related to the hydrographic network of the Depression of Antequera and Guadalhorce River.
The zones of medium altitudes, those of major agricultural interest for their extension, phisiografy and geopedological characteristics, are constitued by Postorogenic Tertiary Formations of the Miocene (Tortoniense – Andaluciense), and by those ones dating of the Trias -marls, sandstones and gypsum– which are highly represented in the surface of the eastern Mollina. They can be divided in several basins; the two principal ones are those of the East (Mollina) and of the West (Humilladero and Fuente de Piedra); in addition, one at the south of Sierra de Humilladero, and another one at the north of Fuente de Piedra, Humilladero and Mollina.
The zones of medium altitudes includes tabular reliefs –concerning those three municipalities-; plains and hills of dissection, glacises of coverage that surround the mountainous formations; and conical hills of the trias from the northwestern and eastern sectors of the region.
The soils of agricultural interest (olive grove, vineyard and dry and irrigated cereals) are very degraded; they are principally on Tertiary and Quaternary limy materials and, in minor extension, on the eastern Trias of the region. On the Postorogenic Tertiary they are formed soils (Calcisols and Cambisols) on calcarenites with a limy crust (“blancales“), and others on marls (Regosols, Cambisols and Vertisols). On Quaternary sediments and/or on marls and limy sandstones of the Trias, Regosols, Cambisols and Luvisols are formed; and in very minor extension some Fluvisols (“vegas”, “cubrijales”).
Finally, four climatic zones have been delimited in the region according to the rainfall and temperature -differentiating four periods according to its viticultural interest (C1, C2, C3 and C4)- by using series of 20 years from five metereological stations. The climatic zone of the South is considered to be as Thermo-Humid; that of the North as Subthermo-Subhumid; the eastern area as Mesothermo-Humid and that at the West, Mesothermo-Subhumid.
Diverse maps of zoning have been made: Z-1, geology, altitude and fluvial network; Z-2, geomorphology, altitude and fluvial network; Z-3, Soil groups and geomorphology; Z-4 geology and geomorphology; and map Z-5, viticultural areas. A global appraisal of the areas has been been carried out, resulting four classes of suitability of the same ones on the basis of the studied characteristics and requirements for the grapevine growing.
Finally, several pictures and descriptive and analytical tables contain detailed information of the different representative “areas”, “pagos” or “terroirs” in this region.

Authors:  Patricia PANEQUE, Consuelo Paloma OSTA, Celia ESPINO, Guillermo PANEQUE 

Dpto de Cristalografía, Mineralogía y Química Agrícola, Universidad de Sevilla. c/ Profesor García González 1. 41012 Seville, Spain

Email: pipaneque@us.es 

Keywords: Málaga Norte, geology, soil, climate, zoning

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