Definition - What does Shale mean?
Shale soil is a type of soil that contains layers of clays and fine granules of sedimentary rocks that are revealed by a receding water topography. Shale is a multicolored soil that is used to grow grapevines due to it’s high mineral and fertile characteristics. Usually nested within a canyon or valley, the vineyard’s planted on shale soil produce smaller yields and concentrated clusters due to limited water retention.
WineFrog explains Shale
Shale soils have several layers of developed topsoil on the surface followed by a clay or limestone foundation. This water-tight foundation makes it increasingly harder for grapevine roots to access organic nutrients and the water table; shale also drains quickly requiring a proactive irrigation practice. While challenging for vintners, shale soils attribute to stronger root growth and expansion with limited vine growth, allowing the vines to withstand many different climates. Shale also has a low pH which allows the vines to age over many years producing high quality berries. Even though the vines are smaller and the grapes have high concentrations, many successful vineyards in North America and South Africa are planted on shale soils.