A Microclimate Analysis of a Niagara Peninsula Vineyard Using Solar Aspect as a Variable

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Dixon, Philip G.
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University of Guelph

This study, based on data collected in 2006, examined the effect of microclimate, as solar aspect, on yield and quality parameters of Riesling vines of a vineyard in the Niagara Peninsula, Thirty Bench Winery, Beamsville, Ontario. Precision viticulture practices including GPS (Global Positioning System), GIS (Geographic Information System) and LIDAR (Laser Range Finder) were used to delineate the microclimate and categorize variations within the vineyard. Within GIS, slope and aspect analysis tools generated solar aspect data. Two different zones were identified and compared for yield and quality data. Monoterpene concentrations in grapes differed by solar aspect, with vines receiving elevated solar radiation showing increased monoterpene concentrations. Since monoterpenes are important to the aroma and flavour of Riesling wines, a difference could impact the quality of the wine produced. Overall, this work shows the potential of precision viticulture in the development of terroir –specific wine in the Niagara region.

solar aspect, precision viticulture, microclimate, monoterpene