Betty's Wine Musings
The Impact of Grape Growing Climates
The Impact of Grape Growing Climates

Why do two 2007 Pinot Noirs from different areas taste so different? Many factors contribute to a wine, including terroir (the grape’s growing environment), clones (natural mutations of a grape), and wine-making techniques. Today, we’ll focus on the effects of grape growing climates on wine.

The grape growing climates of most wine regions are categorized as Mediterranean, Continental or Maritime:

Mediterranean Continental Maritime
Characteristics Long growing seasons with moderate to warm climates and little seasonal change Marked seasonal temperature changes, with hot summers and cold winters Close proximity to large bodies of water that moderate temperatures; “middle ground” between Mediterranean and Continental
Key Regions Tuscany (Italy), Napa and Australia Burgundy and Loire Valley (France), Piedmont (Italy) and Columbia Valley (WA) Bordeaux (France), Willamette Valley (WA) and New Zealand

Red Wine Comparison of Different Grape Growing Climates

If you compare a Pinot Noir from a Mediterranean climate with a Pinot Noir from a Continental climate, you are likely to find marked differences. (A Pinot Noir from a Maritime climate would likely fall somewhere between the two.)

Pinot Noir/ Mediterranean Pinot Noir/ Continental
Climate Warmer climate Cooler climate
Ripeness and sugar content Grapes are more ripe and have more sugar Grapes are less ripe and have less sugar
Alcohol level Higher – due to more sugar being converted into more alcohol Lower – due to less sugar being converted into less alcohol
Wine characteristics Pyrazine, an organic compound which is more prevalent in under-ripened grapes, is gradually destroyed by sunlight as the grapes continue to ripen, resulting in very little herbaceousness Pyrazine on the less fully ripened grapes results in herbaceousness and notes of green pepper and olives

White Wine Comparison of Different Grape Growing Climates

If you compare a Chardonnay from a Mediterranean climate with a Chardonnay from a Continental climate, you are again likely to find marked differences. The climate, ripeness and sugar content, and alcohol level will follow the same differences as described above for Pinot Noir. Here are some additional white wine climate-focused differences to be aware of.

Chardonnay/ Mediterranean Chardonnay/ Continental
Acidity Lower in acidity – less likelihood that your mouth will pucker Higher in acidity – higher likelihood that your mouth will pucker
Color Broad range of colors, from clear to straw to butter to golden Often has a greenish tint

Do You Have a Preference?

I would love to know if you have a preference for Mediterranean, Continental or Maritime climate wines. Also, what specifically do you like about your preference? Please share your thoughts here.

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

Related Posts


  1. I’m going to say Chardonnay Mediterranean for the moment, because I change all the time.
    But, that butter colored smoother chardonnay is what I tend to,so I’ll have to look for Mediterranean. Thanks for the info, very interesting!

    1. Per our discussion today, I’m with you on this one. I’ve heard that once you start to like French Chardonnays, there’s no going back. Given the price point of French Chardonnays here, I’m avoiding developing a liking for them 🙂

  2. I don’t have a specific preference, so it sounds like I’m in need for more wine tasting to get clear (Grin)! Thanks for this great, educational article!
    To your career success!

  3. As always, Betty, I learned something here! Will pay more attention to where the wine comes from before I buy in the future. Really fascinating about all the differences according to where the grapes are grown!

    1. Donna, I’m so glad you liked this information. I think we might want to do a few special tastings where we compare the same grape from different regions. Could be interesting!

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts