Rep. Herseth Sandlin recently hosted a Congressional Soils Caucus briefing for Members of Congress and their staff entitled, "The Essence of Earth and Wine: Terroir," to highlight the importance of geology, soils, and climate on wine characteristics and quality. As co-chair of the Soils Caucus, Rep. Herseth Sandlin invited State Representative Eldon Nygaard with Valiant Vineyards to discuss his wine operation in South Dakota. Eldon spoke about his flavorful Wild Grape wine, a product of the American grape, Vitis riparia, discovered on property near the Vermillion River in South Dakota.
"Through my involvement as co-chair of the Soils Caucus, I recognize the role that management of the soil resources plays in wine grape production. Soil is certainly a key ingredient contributing to the overall composition, quality, and flavor of wine," Rep. Herseth Sandlin said. "Eldon has become a leading advocate of the wine industry, both in South Dakota and nationwide, and I am pleased to have been able to work with him on legislative issues to assist the wine industry, including new and increased funding specialty crops research and certification systems as part of the 2008 Farm Bill."
In addition to Nygaard, speakers included:
• James Fisher, a soil scientist of Soil Solutions LLC, explained the soil criteria used by vineyards to choose the sites for wine grape production.
• John Havlin, North Carolina State University, addressed soil nutrient management techniques specific to wine grape production.
In addition to Valiant Vineyards, vineyards featured included:
• Shelton Vineyards: Located in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina, this is one of the largest vineyards on the East Coast. John Havlin spoke briefly about the soils as well as Shelton's signature Yadkin Valley Riesling.
• Waltz Vineyards: Jan Waltz discussed the geography and soil on his vineyard, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and served two of Waltz's delectable wines—the Baron Steigel Red and their Old Line Chardonnay.
• Wines from the State of California: Selections from various wine regions in California, including the Napa and Central Valleys were available for tasting. Soil scientist James Fisher also spoke about his experience working with vintners in California.