Terroir, the importance of the environment in wine growing

Wine enthusiasts have surely heard this term used more and more frequently, but what exactly does it mean?
This is a French word, which in Spanish is usually translated as terroir, and refers to the set of natural factors (soil type, climate, topography, grape variety, etc.) that affect vineyard cultivation.
In reality, it is a complex and difficult concept to delimit, since it not only includes aspects related to the land, as its name seems to indicate, but also encompasses another series of characteristics that condition and determine the quality and character of the wines cultivated in certain places.
The terroir would be the sum of factors such as climate, microclimate (local variations), soil typology, location of the vineyard (on the bank of a river, on a slope, the height of the terrain, etc.), the subsoil, grape variety, tradition, culture and winemaking practices. All this forms an environment that determines the quality and character of the wine grown.
It is likely that no two vineyards in the world have the same combination of these characteristics, so terroir differentiates the wines obtained in a particular territory in a conclusive way. Although in the globalized world in which we live it is easy to plant grape varieties in lands other than the native ones, or to vary other factors to obtain peculiar and quality wines, terroir indicates a mark that obeys not only objective characteristics (climate, topography, etc.) but also the winemaking tradition of a region, which is why in the world of wine it is a concept that is becoming more and more in vogue.
Currently, this word is used to designate a well-defined and homogeneous geographic extension that presents some striking particularity in its wine production. In Spain, the expressions “vinos de pago” or “vinos de finca” are sometimes used to refer to these types of wine, in which the factors involved in winemaking are so important in the final result.

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