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To say our soil is rocky is an understatement. In fact, I often wonder if it is more accurate to simply say our rocks are soily.

Rocky soil. Or is it soily rocks?

Rocky soil in our vineyard. Or is it soily rocks?

Of course the soil is part of the terroir of a vineyard site, and it thus contributes to the growing, taste and quality of the wine. The stones in our soil, for example, absorb heat during the day and in part warm the vineyard in the early evening. And the soil itself adds a pleasant and desirable mineraly or stoney flavor profile to some of our wine.

The rocks are of course basalt from the historical volcanic activity that is one of the distinctive characters of our wine region.

Badacsony wine region volcanic remnants near Lake Balaton.

Badacsony wine region volcanic remnants in the background, near Lake Balaton.

The types of basalt I have encountered here are quite variable. The most common type is of course the simple stone that is rather ubiquitous in our soil:

The ubiquitous basalt rock.

The ubiquitous basalt rock.

Less common is the scoria basalt, which probably is most familiar to most readers as “basalt” due to its distinctive numerous holes and pits caused by gases in the molten rock:

Small scoria sample.

Small scoria sample.

Large scoria sample.

Large scoria sample. Looks like a meteorite, doesn’t it?

And least common of all, but actually more common in our region of Hungary than in other locations, making many sites that have these structures tourist destinations, are the columnar basalts. Some of the columnar basalt outcrops were actually mined for decades in Hungary. Many of these mines were shut down with the creation of new protected areas in Hungary during the 1990’s (less than 20 years ago). Below is a sample of a polygonal columnar basalt from a mine in Hungary:

Polygonal jointed columnar basalt.

Polygonal jointed columnar basalt.