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Soils: The Dirt on Wine

By: Mackenzie Brisbois
Finally hoping I might dish some salacious materials about wines? Guess again! I’m just going to talk about dirt.
And although it can be dirty, it’s about as dry as a glass of Chardonnay.
Let’s compare, contrast and most importantly enjoy Chardonnay. It can be a wine that is full of booze, tastes of caramel corn, butter and just a little bit too much or it can be racy, energizing with thirst-quenching acidity.
But, let’s focus solely on our Estate Chardonnay. I consider Prince Edward County Chardonnay to be some of the best Chardonnay available! To me, no vineyard here is complete without a significant planting of Chardonnay! It grows up perfectly, the fruit is beautifully ripe and the wines come into themselves in a natural way.
What is it about Prince Edward County?
During the time of glaciations Prince Edward County was below sea level and as the glacier receded the land rose to its present level. The vineyards of Trail Estate are made up of soil classified as Hillier Clay Loam. This consists of about a foot (at best, in some areas) of clay-like soil with pieces of limestone above layers of calcareous limestone created from millennia of crustacean deposits.
The Vineyard at Trail Estate
Our vines are planted north to south and are planted in 7 foot wide rows with 4 feet between each plant. This works out to 1556 vines per acre and with about 6.5 acres we have somewhere around 10,000 vines. The site is relatively flat and has a high water table in the spring and a very low water table mid-summer.
Trail Block
The first block planted by the Sproll family in 2012. This block is quite varied in its soil structure. Some of the block is classic clay with moderate amounts of limestone, other parts are very little soil with more fracture limestone. This block also has a section that is sandy running throughout the middle. From one end to the other is quite a bit of variation, growing grapes with a variety of flavours, creating complexity in our wine.
Winery Block
Planted in 2013 and 2016 this block is planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. Soils in this block are predominantly clay with a moderate amount of fractured limestone mixed in. A very consistent soil type runs throughout. 

But How Does That Translate to the Wines?

Trail Estate Chardonnay 2018 Estate Blend
Composed of both our Chardonnay blocks. Both blocks are planted to Chardonnay clones 96 and 76. Clone 76 is known for making well-balanced wines that are more mineral driven than fruity, whereas clone 96 tends to produce fruitier wines. Influenced by a touch of French oak
to frame the palate this wine shows the incredible terroir of Prince Edward County.

Trail Estate Chardonnay 2018 (Barrel xx004) Trail Block
A single, neutral barrel of Chardonnay harvested exclusively from the Trail Block. Planted in 2012, these vines were planted towards the south end of our property closest to the Millenium Trail. The block is slightly more sheltered from the wind and retains a touch more heat. The wine exhibits more floral notes than the Winery Block with a touch softer acidity.

Trail Estate Chardonnay 2018 (Barrel xx005) Winery Block
Planted in 2013 and 2016 this block is slightly more exposed and receives more wind, helping to keep disease pressure low. The south end of the block is very sandy and drains quickly in the high summer. Plants at the south east end of the block tend to struggle more in drought-like conditions with those plants growing closer to the winery having more balance. This wine was produced in a single, neutral barrel to show the purity of Terroir. Right from the initial juice stage there
were overwhelming aromatics of ripe cantaloupe that have stayed through to the finished wine.

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