The Terroir

Terroir” is a term coined by the French to describe the uniqueness of a particular vineyard’s location.  It has been said that the terroir of a vineyard can be tasted in the resultant wine.   On some level this is true, the unique climate and soil can significantly affect the vines and the grapes later on in the growing season

The terroir of our vineyard is indeed unique due to several factors.  The first being its location in Montana.   Our specific location in western Montana’s banana belt 20 miles west of Missoula affords us much milder climates than anywhere else in Montana.  Even at 47 degrees latitude which approaches the very northern limits of viticulture we see very long days (12 to 13 hours) during the growing season which give us maximum photosynthetic active radiation (PAR). Our belief is that even with a short growing season the longer days mitigate this.   Additionally our gentle south facing slope gives us good air drainage and better exposure to the sunlight.  Our location next to the Clark Fork River on a peninsula takes advantage of not only the temperature mitigating effects of the water but also the surrounding mountains which create a protected “bowl” that is not subject to such high winds or severe storms.    We find consistently that the weather only a few miles east of us is generally cooler, sometimes substantially cooler.   The mountain directly to the west of the vineyard creates a rain shadow which again protects the grapes.    Our soil is a clay loam which has a much higher water holding capacity but this does not necessarily mean that the water is available to the vines, so our irrigation system is a key factor in our success.  The minerals in the soil are sufficient to gives us excellent vine growth.   Our only soil supplement to date has been organic compost which is manually spread using our ATV and plenty of shovels.  We regularly till the rows to keep weeds down and eliminate habitat for insects that may damage the vines or grapes.   So in short, the terroir of our vineyard we believe has the capacity to produce grapes of high quality that will require little intervention by any prospective winemakers.