- Homepage for the Wine Industry

Can Soil Composition Hold Clues to the Flavor of a Wine?

Posted on November 02, 2017

November 2, 2017 (San Francisco, CA) - Wine enthusiasts either accept or deny that the geological composition of a vineyard—chalk, clay, gravel— is transmitted to the vine and consequently into the grapes, then into wine as distinctive, identifiable flavors. “Terroir” is the long-standing belief that composition of the soil actually flavors wine even though there is no known uptake mechanism in grapevines.

The conventional description of terroir is now being challenged with a new investigation into microbial terroir—the microscopic bacterial and fungal life in the soil. Paco Cifuentes, an ex-Silicon Valley biochemist originally from Madrid has founded Whole Wine Trade, a Spanish wine portfolio of small, family-owned estates that, for the most part, farm organically or bio-dynamically. Together with Biome Makers an agriculture-technology startup with offices in San Francisco and Spain, Cifuentes is working on a long-range project to map the vineyard soils of 12 different producers in the Whole Wine Trade portfolio, conduct microbiome analyses, and connect the data to wine produced from the vineyards.

A recent master class and trade tasting on October 18th in San Francisco introduced the Whole Wine Trade project and the Biome Makers “WineSeq” technology. Presenters included Paco Cifuentes, Nacho Belda, PhD., and Bio Makers CSO, and Tim Gaiser, Master Sommelier. “No one has ever been able to prove a scientific link between the vineyards and wine in the bottle. Until now,” says Gaiser.

Biome Makers explains, “The microbiome is a dynamic and integrative biomarker. The microbiome is influenced by agricultural practices, soil chemistry, soil history, vine variety, and weather. It’s quite possible that the microbiome could serve as an objective measure of ‘terroir’ as it integrates all influences on the vine itself, and carries over into the cellar.” The firm uses “WineSeq,” a DNA sequencing and machine learning-based technology, to evaluate the microbiome in a vineyard soil. “WineSeq” reveals the vineyard microbiome that, through the fermentation, influences the finished wine with specific chemical compounds.

Whole Wine Trade is now releasing wine to the Northern California market from two dozen-plus estates in Ribeira Sacra, Rioja, Priorat, and more. These wines have outstanding organoleptic qualities, produced using sustainable, organic or biodynamic practices. “I was born in Madrid but destiny brought me to California, where I found prosperity and love. I want to share the best of Spain and bring its magic to the US. Wholesome, noble wines are just that. It is the magic of transforming sun, earth, water, hard work and century-old traditions into an extraordinary drink that always brings people together,” explains Cifuentes.

The Whole Wine Trade portfolio includes wines from:

Bodegas Larras, Rioja Alta
Pascual Larrieta, Rioja Alavesa;
Gil Bersal, Rioja Alavesa
Ojuel, Rioja Alta
San Prudencio, Rioja Alta
Pincelo, Ribeira Sacra
Gancedo, Bierzo
Montetoro, Toro
Ton Rimbau, Penedés
Finca Tobella, Priorat
Costador Terroirs, Catalunya
Schatz, Serrania de Ronda

About Whole Wine Trade
Noble, pure, exceptional quality wines from Spain made with respect for the environment, honor for tradition and love for everybody who makes them.,

About Biome Makers
Biome Makers is an innovative biotechnology company specializing in the understanding of the microbiome and its influence on the agri-food industry. Using the power of DNA sequencing Biome Makers provides detailed insights and recommendations that allow clients to improve the output of their fields and the quality of their products. Currently, Biome Makers is pursuing new and exciting opportunities in the wine industry with their WineSeq technology.


Copyright© 1994-2018 by Wine Communications Group. All Rights Reserved. Copyright protection extends to all written material, graphics, backgrounds and layouts. None of this material may be reproduced for any reason without written permission of the Publisher. Wine Business Insider, Wine Business Monthly, Grower & Cellar News and Wine Market News are all trademarks of Wine Communications Group and will be protected to the fullest extent of the law.