Part of our Wine Science series
In viticulture (the cultivation and harvesting of grapes for wine), the climates of wine regions are categorised based on the overall characteristics of the area’s climate during the growing season. The Köppen climate classification is often used to categorise wine regions into three main categories: Mediterranean, maritime, and continental climates.
Mediterranean climates are characterised by their long growing seasons of moderate to warm temperatures. Throughout the year there is little seasonal change, with temperatures in the winter generally warmer than those of maritime and continental climates. Some examples of wine regions with Mediterranean climates include Tuscany, Italy and Napa Valley, California.
Maritime climates are characterised by their proximity to large bodies of water, which can have a moderating effect on the climate of a region. These regions tend to have mild winters and cool summers, with a relatively narrow temperature range throughout the year. Some examples of wine regions with maritime climates include Bordeaux, France and
Marlborough, New Zealand.
Continental climates are characterised by their cold winters and hot summers, with a wide temperature range throughout the year. These regions tend to have a shorter growing season than Mediterranean and maritime climates. Some examples of wine regions with continental climates include Burgundy, Barolo and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
The climate of a wine region has a significant impact on the viticulture in the area, influencing the type of grape varieties grown in a region and the type of viticultural practices that will be used. For example, in cooler climates, grapes may struggle to ripen fully, resulting in wines with higher acidity and lower alcohol content. In warmer climates, grapes may ripen too quickly, resulting in wines with lower acidity and higher alcohol content.
Some examples of wine regions and their climate classifications:
Cool climates: Champagne, France (maritime climate); Mosel, Germany (continental climate)
Moderate climates: Willamette Valley, Oregon (maritime climate); Burgundy, France (continental climate)
Warm climates: Barossa Valley, Australia (mediterranean climate); Napa Valley, California (mediterranean climate)
Hot climates: La Mancha, Spain (continental climate), Murray-Darling, Australia (mediterranean climate)
By identifying the climate of the wines you most like it might help you find others you like. For example, you might love Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand but find Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine, France in the Loire Valley too acidic because the climate is cooler.
Tony Elvin - The Wine Events Company