How Does WineSoil Compare With the Traditional County Soil Survey?  

By Andy Gallagher
Soil Scientist, Red Hill Soils
Corvallis, Oregon

Oregon is synonymous with quality wine. Winegrowers with a goal of top-quality in the vineyard are using more and more intensive management. They are growing ever thirsty for better soil information. There is however an information gap. Existing soil survey maps were intended for general planning and a broad audience and are limiting for winegrowers' special needs.

WineSoil is a precision soil survey service designed specifically to provide "real-scale" soil maps for Oregon winegrowers. This unique approach combines new generations soil survey techniques with winegrower knowledge to provide customized soil data and interpretations. Soil information is integrated into your overall winegrowing techniques and strategies.

What's the difference? The traditional soil survey provides generalized soil information garnered from a broad geographic region. This information is idealized and is supported by a very limited amount of known and real soil samples.

The delineations on the soil survey map often contain significant "inclusions" of contrasting soils that manage differently than the soil mapped.

With the typical 1:20,000 scale soil survey map, the smallest area that can be shown is about 4 acres, and most delineations are considerably larger. One of the first steps in managing the soil variability that can affect the quality of winegrapes is to have a soil map at a level of detail that matches your management capabilities. A precision soil survey has the flexibility to show you more important details.


The practical side of soil mapping an entire county is that the number of observations had to be limited. One boring per ten to twenty acres was a typical and practical sample density used in mapping Willamette Valley cropland. Sampling intensity varies with terrain, soil complexity and land use. It was deemed impractical the past to include specific point soil data in the county soil survey report.

With WineSoil precision soil survey, a sample density of one or more soil borings per acre is common. Point specific data are included in the WineSoil–Precision Soil Survey. Sample points are georeference using differentially corrected GPS. Soil data can be delivered to you in a variety of formats including on that is ready to load into a geographic information system (GIS). Soil interpretations are current and customized.

Soil surveys contain valuable information, and if you know how to extract that information, they are good planning tools and a good starting point. But many soil surveys in Oregon are over 25-years old and the interpretations, classification and maps are out-of-date. For instance the 1974 Yam hill County Survey does not have interpretations for winegrapes.

WineSoil customizes sampling, data and interpretations to meet your management goals. The fist step in the WineSoil Service is onsite soil consultation. This introduces you to precision mapping and incorporates your knowledge as a winegrower into the soil survey process. The soil-mapping job is customized to your vineyard and management goals.