Home Industry News Releases How Soil Microbial Diversity Defines the Flavor of a Wine

How Soil Microbial Diversity Defines the Flavor of a Wine

  • Avalara

Using precision enology with microbes-based winemaking, the microscopic bacterial and fungal life in the soil may influence the notion of terroir

October 30, 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. Biome Makers an agriculture-technology startup with offices in San Francisco and Spain, conduct microbiome analyses, and connect the data to wine produced from the vineyards.  

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.

A recent master class and trade tasting on October 18th in San Francisco introduced the Biome Makers “WineSeq” technology and the Whole Wine Trade Project, a spanish wine portfolio of small, family-owned estates that, for the most part, farm organically or bio-dynamically, managed by Paco Cifuentes, an ex-Silicon Valley biochemist originally from Madrid.

Biome Makers and Cifuentes are working on a long-range project to map the vineyard soils of twelve (12) different producers in the Whole Wine Trade portfolio. Presenters included Paco Cifuentes, Ignacio 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.

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.



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.



  • Avalara
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