Wine Chemistry

Overview and Context

Terroir, the concept that growing conditions contribute to the character of a crop or agricultural product, has long been applied to grapes and wine. The site characteristics often cited as likely contributors to the flavor of a wine include factors such as soil type, soil moisture, air temperature, solar exposure, and elevation. Both the site characteristics and the grape juice or wine characteristics can be measured and quantified, which means they lend themselves to exploration with quantitative and statistical methods of investigation. The DataLab will be working with Professor Ron Runnebaum to build a data infrastructure capable of comparing how these quantifiable growing conditions impact the characteristics of the resulting grape juice.

For this project we will be working with data regarding Pinot noir wine grapes growing in California and Oregon, specifically in the Santa Maria, Arroyo Seco/Monterey, Sonoma Coast, and Willamette Valley American Viticultural Areas.

Project Goals

Our goal for this project is to collect, organize, and investigate the utility of available data to compare grape outcomes with growing characteristics. The DataLab will be organizing and preparing local weather, soil, air measurements for the growing areas. A separate team will also be exploring the utility of the Planet satellite imagery API for estimating similar conditions without sensors in the area. These tasks are components of the largest informatics objective to test the availability and robustness o f data to answer the project research questions.

Potential Impact

This research will build on the partner’s previously published work (, which used available site data and wine chemistry to find that site conditions produce different characteristics in Pinot Noir wine. This new line of research will use in situ sensors for measurements and aerial imagery to obtain measurements on a finer, more site-specific scale.  The results of this new research could potentially offer a more detailed explanation of the importance of certain environmental conditions.