C2: Location–Climate

Climate influences such as cloud cover serve as cooling protection for vineyards at King Estate in Eugene, OR

In the previous lesson, you learned location can be further defined by climate and terrain.  At DOMSOM, we further break down climate into two categories:  Proximity Based and Temperature Based. 

Proximity-Based Climates:

Proximity-based climates relate to the specific geographic place a vineyard is located and what natural geographic features are nearby which impact the vineyard. These climates are referred to as Maritime, Mediterranean, and Continental. These are fairly broad generalities, but they have common attributes which make them ideally suited for specific wine varieties (Module 3:  White Wine and Module 4: Red Wine).

Maritime Climates:

  • Near large bodies of water (helps regulate temperature shifts)
  • Fairly small range of annual temperatures 
  • Warm summers / Moderate winters
  • Higher annual rainfall
  • Long growing seasons

Mediterranean Climates:

  • Hot, dry, warm summers
  • Wet, moderate winters

Continental Climates:

  • Inland areas
  • Cold Winters / Hot Summers
  • Limited rainfall
  • Short growing seasons

Temperature-Based Climates:

Temperature-based climates are based on annual temperatures for the specific vineyard location. While we will not get into great detail on this topic, latitude or distance from the equator alone does not create a cool versus warm climate. A northerly vineyard near the ocean with warm prevailing currents can be warmer than an inland vineyard on the same latitude! To keep it simple, we focus on general temperature ranges for Cool, Moderate and Warm temperature climates as follows:

              Average below 62o F / 16.5o C

Moderate:         Average between 62o F / 16.5o C and 65o F / 18.5o C

Warm:              Average between 65o F / 18.5o C and 70o F / 21o C

These averages are for the actual growing season which is April through October for vineyards north of the equator, or Northern Hemisphere, or October through April for those in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is important to note there are vineyards which fall outside of any of these climate ranges.  Farmers and wine makers must adapt to the challenges from overly cool climates or excessively warm climates in every decision they make from the variety of grapes to grow, when to harvest, and how to make the wine.