Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio Climate Influences

Cool Climate:  Cooler climates provide longer growing periods and more time on the vine for grapes to build complexity in both flavor and aroma while keeping high levels of acidity.  With its light body and ripe apple, pear and peach fruit flavors this is a go everywhere do everything wine which drinks great on a hot summer day or with lighter food pairings.  These same fruit flavors can also pair perfectly with the slightly spice based flavors of later harvest grapes and ultimately wines.  This style is more aligned with wines referred to as Pinot Gris.  Most U.S. Pinot Gris / Grigio wines are made in a dry style are not fermented or stored in oak.  Lees contact and malolactic fermentation is prevented. 

As grapes are typically harvested later, sugar levels can be higher than even earlier harvest moderate climate Pinot Grigio translating to slightly higher alcohol in Pinot Gris styles.

Moderate Climate:  Wine grower and wine makers in moderate climates have several options on when to harvest Pinot Gris / Grigio grapes and the results are quite different.  As grapes will ripen much faster, wine makers can choose to harvest early when the fruit is just ripe.  This produces a harvest of grapes with moderate acidity, lower sugar (resulting in a lower alcohol wine) and little complexity of flavor.  These wines are simple, refreshing, typically inexpensive with tart citrus and apple flavors and very little aroma.  They are perfect for picnics and poolside sipping. 

As mentioned above, Moderate Climate Pinot Grigio, picked when just ripe, can have lower alcohol levels than cooler climate Pinot Gris styles.

Stylistically, if wine makers choose to leave the grapes to ripen longer in moderate climate vineyards, grapes will have lower acidity and higher sugar content.  Flavors will lean more to riper peach and melons paired with higher alcohol.  As the moderate climate does not allow the grapes to build complex flavors prior to harvest even when left on the vine a bit longer, this style of Pinot Grigio can result in dull wine with higher alcohol and very little acidity for balance.  Fortunately, wine makers have a few tricks up their sleeve to prevent this from happening and can ferment moderate climate grapes in ways which can preserve as much acidity as possible such as cooling the wine during fermentation.