A Taste of Local Terroir for Spring Travel 2024

How about a taste of terroir for Spring travel 2024? Terroir can be a tricky term to tackle. This French concept doesn’t just apply to wine – in fact, it’s generally applicable to any agricultural product from bread to cheese to meats and beyond. So what does it mean, and how does it apply to Lake Erie Wine?

There’s an obvious etymological link between terroir and terre, the French word for earth or land. Unsurprisingly, the soil itself is part of the concept of terroir, and within the context of Lake Erie, that means the free-draining sand and gravel soils over a clay base. Why is this important? Grape vines do their best work when they get just enough water to survive but not quite enough to thrive. The sand and gravel topsoils mean that vines have to dig deep to find water, and this also means that they don’t get waterlogged in periods of high precipitation. This is good news because the berries don’t swell with water and dilute flavors, and the green parts of the canopy don’t become overgrown. Instead, the vines can concentrate their efforts on ripening fruit, and the clay base soil retains water so that the vines are never parched beyond the pale.

But the soil, the land, is only part of the equation. Terroir is something more all-encompassing that also takes into consideration things like climate, neighboring vegetation, topography, and anything else that creates a unique sense and flavor of place. It’s why Riesling grapes grown on the sunny shores of Lake Erie, moderated by lake temperatures that allow for a gentle and long growing season, taste different than those grown in Australia’s high-elevation Eden Valley, for example.

Think of terroir as the signature of a time and place. Although it might be hard to define, you know it when you taste it.

Story by Adam Knoerzer / Photography by Jeff Swensen

A bottle of red wine with grapes in front of it sitting on a wooden picnic table outside in what looks like a wooded area.

Presque Isle Wine Cellars

A man and a women standing in front of the Penn Shore Winery Sign with 2 dogs on leashes.

Penn Shore Vineyards

A close-up of a green grape leaf on a grapevine.

PA Wines

A close up picture of a grapevine with grapes in the process of ripening.

Lake Erie Wine Country

A photo of the outside of a building with multicolored stacked stone, wood, and white trim with a statue of a green standing frog on the right of the building.

KingView Meadery 

A grape vine that is just budding.

Johnson Estate Winery

Light tan colored wine barrels from 21 Brix stacked sideways on metal racks.

21 Brix

Visit our Spring Travel Guide 2024 for more information about these wineries and other great Spring Travel locations.


Content and Photography provided by locations.

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