Text Size:-+

Dead Fish Lead to Good Wine

As if the famously untranslatable French concept of terroir wasn't complicated enough. Harrumph. We wine lovers have enough on our hands arguing late into the evening about whether local yeast is part of terroir; or whether it includes or excludes climate and weather; or if in fact it is only soil geology; or perhaps if it is something beyond the knowledge of man. Its all so very complicated, and now apparently we have to factor in the nearby dead fish as well.

Good grief.

Yet we cannot deny the fact that there really is something to the notion of a circle of life, no matter how awful that Disney song really is. Fisheries biologists (though perhaps not the MOST objective people in matters such as these) have determined that the dead salmon in the Mokelumne and Calaveras river drainages in Northern California may be responsible for up to 25% of the nitrogen in the soil in the vineyard lands immediately surrounding the river.

It sounds crazy at first, but the carcasses of the Salmon, who die naturally after spawning, become food for dozens of scavenger species who then drag, drop, and excrete bits of salmon onto the surrounding land where it enriches the soil. You've heard the one about the bear in the woods right? What about the vulture in the vineyard?

Of course this is all moot for some, who claim that California vineyards have no terroir (and are therefore inferior to those in Europe that do possess this mystical elusive quality) but I for one, will definitely be looking for that small hint of marine vertebrate the next time I taste something from Amador county.

Read the full story. And then be glad this wasn't about wine made from dead fish.

Buy My Award-Winning Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Instagram Delectable Flipboard Pinterest

Most Recent Entries

Vinography Images: Unglamorous Work A Lesson in the Loss of Denis Malbec I'll Drink to That: Kimberly Prokoshyn of Rebelle Restaurant Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 6/19/16 Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 12, 2016 Warm Up: Richebourg I'll Drink to That: Jean-Nicolas Méo of Méo-Camuzet Vinography Images: It's Nice to be King It's Time for American Wineries to Grow Up I'll Drink to That: Joy Kull of La Villana Winery

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud