Terroir? That's not how I would describe it

Nathalie Spielmann (Marketing Department, Reims Management School, Reims, France)
Claire Gélinas‐Chebat (Linguistic Department, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Canada)

International Journal of Wine Business Research

ISSN: 1751-1062

Publication date: 2 November 2012



This article seeks to uncover if the definition of terroir is the same between the users (producers, vendors, high and low involvement consumers) of the term in the French wine industry. The objective is to uncover if the definition of terroir is homogenous between the user groups.


An online questionnaire was distributed to an industry sample and then to a consumer panel, and asked respondents to outline in their own words how they would define a terroir product. Lexical analyses using SATO software were conducted and uncovered word frequency, distances, and contexts.


The results show that each user group has its own taxonomy of terroir terms and uses an exclusive vocabulary. User group distinctions and commonalities are outlined. Globally it appears that the user groups seem to define terroir based on their level of involvement with wine as well as their role in the wine industry.

Practical implications

French wine marketers can use these results to better understand how types of consumers perceive terroir and consider these perceptions when contemplating using terroir in a product description such as on wine labels or when developing marketing communications.


Prior to this research there were no empirical results regarding how terroir is defined in the marketplace as well as the relationships between the descriptives used to define terroir. This research is a first step in understanding the value of terroir as a marketing attribute as well as the signals it represents for all user groups in the French wine industry.



Spielmann, N. and Gélinas‐Chebat, C. (2012), "Terroir? That's not how I would describe it", International Journal of Wine Business Research, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 254-270. https://doi.org/10.1108/17511061211280310

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