The love of wine brought them together to explore the soil

With the conviction and strong evidence that San Luis has a huge potential to develop its own wine industry, the Ministry of Production created the Provincial Wine Table and invited representatives of local and national institutions to be part of it. To advance the project, they decided to study the soil of those spaces where wine grapes are already grown. The first step was at the experimental site Sol Puntano.

“We dug a pit, which is a kind of well, specifically located near the vineyard to monitor the development of the plant’s roots. In this case, we are working on the variety with which we make Cabernet Sauvignon. We had geologists, technicians and analytical specialists on site extracting soil samples and their various layers. The next step is to analyze its nutritional status,” explained Alfredo Cartellone, head of the facility’s agricultural colony sub-program and also president of the Provincial Wine Association.

Thoroughly. They seek to gain information about efficient wine production.

Chaired by Agustín Martínez, Head of the San Luis Brand Program, the Board is composed of members of the Winery Association, the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI), the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), the Faculty of Engineering and Agricultural Sciences (FICA) of UNSL , the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet) and the National Service for Health and Food Quality (Senasa).

“We will include the information obtained in a suitability map that we will make together with all the participants in the table, so that we can later analyze each of the vineyards that are found in different areas of the province according to the description and characteristics of the soil, the irrigation water and agro-climatic conditions. These data will allow us to reference our wines and get to know them in detail”, explained the agricultural engineer.

“The information we receive will allow us to map the characteristics of the soil, climate and water for irrigation,” Alfredo Cartellone (Head of the Agricultural Colonies Subprogramme)

“Specifically, in Sol Puntano for wine grapes, we have three and a half hectares, one of which is Malbec, one is Cabernet Sauvignon, another is Chardonnay, and the other half is a collection of nine varieties to explore. We also have another hectare of dessert grapes, which are for fresh consumption,” explained Cartellone, adding that the vines are about 12 years old.

In addition, the president of the Provincial Wine Association explained that the sampling is a test to correct the pit method to be applied in all the vineyards of San Luis and thus obtain specific information about each one.

bare. The pit is a well that opens in the middle of the root of the culture to learn about its properties.

On this occasion, the person responsible for taking the soil samples was Gisela Borgatello, graduate in Geological Sciences and member of the GEA Environmental Research Group from the Institute of Applied Mathematics, affiliated to Conicet and the National University of San Luis.

“This meticulous work seeks to define the physico-chemical characteristics in this area of ​​viticultural production. We worked in a test pit, defining the different layers in the soil profile to initially characterize it. After that, we take samples at different depths, on which chemical and textural analyzes will be applied”, specified the specialist.

The pit they made in Sol Puntano served to adjust the method of obtaining information that they will reproduce in the vineyards of the entire province.

“We have many institutions that provide their knowledge and capacity to generate an impetus for provincial viticulture and create a favorable scenario for future investments that will certainly reach the province,” said Cartellone, underlining once again the productive potential that San Luis has for the development of the wine industry. “It is a province that has many conditions: available groundwater, water from dams, impressive soil and very interesting agro-climatic conditions. These data are preliminary and will allow viticulture to be positioned as a quality and emerging sector in the province”.

Layers. Soil formation is very important for any vine.

For his part, Soledad Cerutti, doctor of chemistry, principal researcher at Conicet and full professor at the National University of San Luis, stated that this work marks the beginning of scientific activities planned by those who compose the Provincial Vitivinícola Table, “the idea is to we can characterize the physical and chemical characteristics not only of the soils, but we aim to add different types of samples in the irrigation water, from the life of the crop and from the final product, which is the wine, in order to achieve a profile that later serves to create a map at the province level’.

The researcher, who is also part of the Institute of Chemistry in San Luis, specified that the water samples are also a key factor, because through them the plant will receive the necessary nutrients for its subsequent development.

“We can say that later we will start these meticulous works within the process of growing the vines, now we are in the initial stage, the plant that is growing, the grapes will soon emerge, then the harvest will come, between February and March of the coming year. It is a whole process through which we will scientifically monitor the oenological stages of the plant and then the finished product, which will now be part of the wine industry in the province of San Luis, with its special attributes,” he assured.

The doctor of chemistry emphasized two aspects: “Although this project started in the experimental agricultural colony of Sol Puntano, the Wine Association consists of another 14 producers, the idea is to repeat the same analyzes in all these lands. Then, when I talk about a physico-chemical characteristic, this process includes a large number of analyzes of different types of nature, in such a way that when it is interpreted, we will study a profile, we refer to the characteristic and give the necessary answers from an agrotechnical point of view to carry out the cultivation of the vine. In other words, we will extend these studies to all of them, with the possibility that if more manufacturers are added, we can offer them the same service”.

The study of the characteristics of the environment for the development of the vine is very important because it sets a precedent.

“It is a very important fact that in our province these capacities are not developed, they do not exist, we are starting with this completely new project which is unprecedented and given the working capacities in the laboratory to carry it out. Since the vine is a new crop for the province, everything remains to be done, with the possibility of providing this information in real time to the people. Because many times decisions need to be made quickly and having a lab that provides that knowledge, with the time needed for analysis, is a big advantage,” he said.

There are many variables that will contribute to the characterization of the vine and the wine. “Climate, water and the variables that are part of the crop will be decisive. In addition to good agronomic practices, this includes everything, when you already have the final product, you can think of the wine as having its own body, its own attributes and characteristics, each small part makes up a whole, which ultimately gives rise to the possibility to interpret and we define the profile that our San Luis wines have or will have, all of which leave the stamp of San Luis,” Cerutti said.

The doctor of chemistry, proud to be part of the project, emphasized that everything is yet to be done, “this is an emerging opportunity in our province, given that San Luis is not yet a wine province par excellence compared to other provinces . It is a culture that, since 2000 and due to the amendment of the law, now gives the start to other provinces and there are already 18 that use these opportunities.

Cerutti said that due to the peculiarity that there are no records of this activity, “all studies will be valid and will set a precedent in terms of wine-growing characteristics. In other words, they will find out what are the characteristics that distinguish San Luis from other places.

There are expectations. The studies generated enthusiasm among researchers.

“We categorically state that our land has great potential because there is scientific evidence that we have such a special resource as water, in other wine provinces par excellence there is a shortage of this resource; San Luis has aquifers and means of irrigation that would be extremely suitable and optimal for growing vineyards,” he emphasized, adding that the National Institute of Viticulture recognizes that the soils in the province registered for viticultural practice are optimal.

The specialist pointed out that the climate is also an important factor “due to the variety of different varieties that the entire province has, this allows for the establishment of grapes and different varieties with different characteristics, with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon standing out. So do the whites,” he said, adding that “the province is identified with its dry climate, the sun is different at different times of the year and the wind, although many do not believe and think it is not pleasant, especially for some cultures usually is useful. The environment as a whole cannot be divided. Variables, good agricultural practices and the ability to characterize each stage of the process and the subsequent actions ensure that they will be excellent in San Luis.

“This work does not end here, there are 14 members of the Wine Association, we will take samples in each of the projects”, Soledad Cerutti (PhD in Chemistry, Principal Researcher at Conicet)

Finally, Cerutti expressed that it was important for her to emphasize “something that gives me a lot of peace and that rarely comes up. The situation of working together and accompanying different institutions is to add knowledge, perspectives, experience in search of something better. It’s collaborative, multidisciplinary work where there’s basically a tendency to excel in what everyone can contribute, and that doesn’t always happen, it’s a specific situation. The working environment is very pleasant, Wine Table’s effort is no less in uniting the different spaces”, he concluded.

With a total of around 200 hectares dedicated to the cultivation of vines, the provincial government is committed to working hard to develop this sector.

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