What is terroir? (And Why You Want to Know)

What is terroir?

What is terroir?  I first heard of the concept a number of years ago, and my brain immediately went, “Ah-hah!”  Terroir (from terre, “land”) is defined (via Wikipedia) as:

…the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with the plant’s genetics, expressed in agricultural products such as wine, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, heritage wheat and tea. The concept has also crossed to other Protected Appellations of Origin (PDOs a form of geographical indication), products such as cheeses. Terroir can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product. Terroir is often italicized in English writing to show that it is a French loanword.

Most frequently, it is used to describe grape and vineyards, but once you start poking around in foodie circles, you’ll hear it applied to a wider variety of foods, such as those listed in the Wikipedia definition.  I live just a couple of miles from a winery called Parallel 44.  They chose the latitude because it includes many of the great wine making regions of the world, and they chose the specific site for the soil and gentle south facing slope.

Terroir in the Garden

By this point, you may be thinking, “But I don’t grow grapes or any of those other crops.”  If you garden (or even if you only eat what other people grow), you have experienced terroir.  In the homestead garden, most gardeners have noticed how much better their own freshly picked produce tastes than store offerings.  There are few things better than a sun-riped, juice dripping tomato or strawberry fresh off the vine.  *That* is terroir.  The better your growing conditions, the more flavorful the food you grow will be.

Of course, once in a while terroir bites you in the tail.  Some plants simply will not thrive in some soils.  Alkaline, high nitrogen soil will lead to scabby potatoes (work in leaves to help drop your pH).  Strongly alkaline soil will stunt blueberries (pine needles make a great blueberry mulch).  In my garden, I can’t grow sweet onions.  I can plant sweet onion varieties, but I have so much sulfur in my soil that the onions always come out very strong flavored.  In these cases, you can either grow in pots are work on a major soil makeover, or you can focus on crops more suited to the soil you have (or learn to like stronger onions).

Terroir in Essential Oils

I’ve been dabbling in essential oils for years, but I finally decided to do some deeper digging in 2013.  I gave the organic farmer who is renting our land a call (Joe the Organic Guy :-) ), because I knew he was a “user” (essential oil user, that is).  I mentioned a chronic health problem my son has been battling (an infected toenail), and he came over and gave me some oil samples to see if we could make an impact on the infection.  We talked a while, and he shared his stories about how he used the oils to help heal his adrenal glands (he’s a cancer survivor) and how he used them for other ailments.  I ended up scheduling a class, and inviting some friends.

Over the course of the evening, it came up that the dōTERRA oils were grown in specific locations around the world so that they would have the desired aromatic and healing compounds.  “Ah-hah!”, I said, “That’s terroir!”  (Of course, no one knew what I was talking about…)

No matter what you call it, it makes sense to me (and my stinky onions) that where you grow and how you grow can be as important as what you grow.  (Note on the infected toe.  I am cautiously optimistic.  We can see visual improvement, and I am hoping in a few weeks to be able to show you a healed toe.)

The Newest Tool in Medicine Chest

Remember the old ad that said something along the lines of, “I liked it so much, I bought the company”?  Well, I didn’t buy the company, but I did become a dōTERRA consultant.  I’ll be testing out the products on our aches and “owies”, and sharing what I learn as I go.  (Anyone local want to be a guinea pig?)

If you have specific questions, I’ll do my best to answer.  They sell supplements, cleaning products and personal care products along with the essential oils.  The Lifelong Vitality Pack comes with a complete money back guarantee, and includes a special supplement for boosting memory called “CRS” for “Can’t Remember Stuff”.  Just kidding!  One of the supplements is called Alpha CRS, but it’s for helping your body speed up repairs.

Lifelong Vitality Pack

Visit dōTERRA online by clicking the image above.

If you’re curious, you can visit my online sales site by clicking on this link.  You’ll see the monthly sales scrolling in the front page, and you can click on the “Shop for Products” tab to view all the products.  Anyone can shop on the site “as is”, or you can join as a Consultant ($35 – allows you to buy at wholesale, set up your own site, sell oils and earn free products) or Preferred Member ($10 – allows you to buy at wholesale prices, like a Sam’s Club membership).

I’m looking forward to sharing this new area of self care with you in future posts.  Our bodies are made to heal themselves, we just have to figure out how to help them do it.  I hope you enjoy the terroir of your garden and local food providers this upcoming growing season.  :-)






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  1. says

    Very interesting info. I have heard about the grapes from certain regions having different flavor than the same varieties grown in other regions, and cheeses from one cellar tasting very different that cheese from another cellar due to the mold varieties. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. says

    This is so cool! I’m glad you’ll be filling us in on some of this as this is an area I’m really lacking knowledge on and want to learn more. I’ve got a finger that is having issues (side of the nail got infected and although the big infection is gone it is still not right and seems to be pulling away from the nail) so I can’t wait to hear about what your son has done for his toe! I wish I was closer so I could be a tester for you. I’m in Milwaukee and would happily be a guinea pig if you need me, my husband or my three little kiddos! :)

    • says

      We’re using a combination of three oils on the toe – frankincense, On Guard (blend) and Melalueca. he had a slice of his toenail cut off to try and give more room (since it was ingrown, which is how the infections tarted), and it never healed up properly. It was angry and red all the way around the nail when we started with the oil, now the redness is really confined to the original side, and the wound is starting to close. I really hope this works and he is finally rid of this infection. It’s been over a year, with several times we thought it was clearing, only to have it bounce back.

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