2019 Graduate Student Showcase

Title of Submission

Bonneville and the Vines: Flood Sedimentation Influences on Vineyard Soils, Sunnyslope, SW Idaho

Degree Program

Geoscience, MS

Major Advisor Name

David Wilkins

Type of Submission

Scholarly Poster


Terroir is the set of factors such as climate, soil, and management practices that influence the character of a wine. Among the physical factors, soil texture is a major contributor in wine grape quality (van Leeuwen et al., 2009). Limited knowledge of soil texture, and how local geology controls soil texture, can lead to unnecessary water use, financial spending, and low quality fruit.

The objectives of my work are to explore the influence of underlying geology and Bonneville flood deposits on soil textures and ultimately grape health in the Sunnyslope wine grape growing district. The Sunnyslope district is located near the Snake River between Melba, ID and Adrian, OR, and is uniquely abundant in Bonneville flood deposits. I hypothesize that (1) the Pleistocene Bonneville Flood, contributed to the variability in soil textures across the Sunnyslope district, and (2) soil texture reflects the pattern of flood sediment deposition as it continues downstream. Knowledge of the flood’s influence on soil texture will allow vineyard owners to successfully grow high quality grapes and produce wines that best reflect the conditions under which they were grown, the terroir indicative of the Snake River Valley.

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