Central Virginia Cabernet Franc Terroir Investigation (2017)

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the difference in wine quality and chemistry based on vineyard site and winemaking style using Cabernet Franc grapes grown in and around the Monticello Wine Trail appellation. This purpose was achieved through comparing the impact of growing area on wine style (by comparing how wines from different vineyard sites taste when produced by the same winemaker) as well as comparing different winemaking stylistic impacts on grapes from different regions (by tasting grapes from the same region being produced by different winemakers). Three winemakers traded their grapes to each other and fermented each other’s grapes according to their own stylistic practices. The results of this study suggest that winemaking practices are able to substantially impact many of the vineyard effects on wine chemistry. Wines produced at Veritas tended to be positively correlated with Tannin and either negatively correlated to Total Anthocyanin, or not correlated with Anthocyanin (Veritas Winery Veritas Grapes). Wines produced at Early Mountain Vineyards, on the other hand, were generally correlated to Total Anthocyanins and negatively correlated to Tannin. Horton winery tended to produce wines which were in-between the Veritas and Early Mountain wines, in many of these regards. Overall, these results suggest that while vineyard site places some boundaries on the chemical qualities of wine, chemical qualities can be easily driven by winemaking practices. However, vineyard site tended to have the greatest impact on sensory characteristics. Early Mountain grapes tended to have more Herbaceous and Acidic qualities, and Veritas grapes tended to have higher Fruit Intensity and Astringency. Horton grapes tended to have higher Overall Aromatic Intensity. However, winemaking practices were able to alter these sensory characteristics in some cases, so that there was not a simplistic division of vineyard sites into certain flavor profiles. Most parameters were not dominated by either winemaking or vineyard site, but a mixture of both was seen. In the future, many more studies should be performed, with more statistical rigor.

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