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Wine Country Weather: 6 Facts on The Best Climate for Growing Wine Grapes

By
Sarah Ward
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Wine Country Weather

When choosing where you’ll be opening a winery, there’s a question that stands above the others: “What is the best climate for growing wine grapes?” Of course, reading that, you might be thinking, “I don’t know! How does one learn that?” Well, there are people who know the answer, and there are ways you can learn. Before you start the process of buying a winery, this article will help you figure out the best places to buy.

You’ll discover great options in this article. Later on, we’ll be walking through some options of the best climate for growing wine grapes, to give you an overview. You’ll also find smatterings about different types of wine and grapes on the BinWise blog. This is just the start of the information out there. There are also people who have gone to school and studied for years to be able to really understand wine country climate. 

If you want to work with experts, you can reach out to someone who has studied wine, also known as a viticulturist (different from a sommelier). They can help you learn more and give opinions about your options. You can also study on your own, and perhaps go to school to learn all you can about winemaking and grape growing. 

As you can see, you’ve got options. Today we’ll cover the basics, and you can go from there with whatever plan suits your winery needs. We will also cover other useful wine climate topics. Those will be less about where to grow your grapes, but they're still vital to understanding the process of winemaking.

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Climate Change Wine Country Information

For anyone interested in getting into winemaking, there’s one thing you can’t get around: climate change. The world of winemaking has shifted drastically as the effects of climate change have worsened. We’re making this point first, not to scare you off from winemaking, but to make sure you know the current climate. 

In recent years, both California and Australia had wildfires that raged across landscapes and news scenes. Those fires decimated wineries and vineyards. They made it nearly impossible (and impossible in some places) for winemakers to come back from the burns and recover. 

As the fight against climate change continues, the wine community needs to be prepared for more potential disasters. From fires to droughts to flash floods, vineyards are in for a rough time. 

Climate Control Systems for Wine Cellars

While the climate out in the vineyards isn’t something you can control, there are ways to protect your wines once they’re bottled and stored. Climate control systems for wine cellars are a vital aspect of the indoor climate for wineries. With cooling units and humidifiers available for any size cellar, there’s sure to be one that works for you (maybe even one that fits right into your wine rack).

These climate control systems are also great for home wine cellar management. If you’ve got a sizable wine collection, investing in a cooler or humidifier is a good way to keep your wine in peak condition. 

Napa Valley Climate Wine

There’s a reason Napa Valley is so well known, from California to across the world, for amazing wines. The climate in the valley is ideal for many varieties of grapes. Napa is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and a lot of mountains. This mix of air creates the perfect Mediterranean climate, which is the best wine climate type in most cases.

Of course, that also means that Napa is already a popular place for vineyards and wineries. It can be hard to find a spot to claim as your own there. It’s not impossible, but if you’re looking to open a winery, looking outside of Napa is a smart idea.

You can find other Mediterranean climate spots and regions that are good for grapes in other ways. If you’re looking to host winery weddings, you’ll especially want to look outside of Napa, as most Napa vineyards can’t host weddings.

Best Wine Grapes to Grow in Hot Climates

Before we dive into the best wine grapes to grow in hot climates, we need to define a hot climate. There are hot, dry climates, and then there are warmer climates that aren’t necessarily dry. 

For general warm climates, some varieties that do really well are Zinfandel, Grenache, and Shiraz. These wine names aren’t seen as often on the shelves (well, zin is, but even this is rare). That’s because these warm climates aren’t often used for grape growing. But if you find a good spot, these wines all have their own places in the hearts of wine lovers.

For hot, dry climates, some of the best grapes to grow are Zinfandel, Golden Muscat, Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera, and Sangiovese. Some of these are even rarer! A good Syrah can be hard to find outside Australia, and Tempranillo is a wine most people haven’t even heard of. Some of the best red wine types come out of hot climates.

The aforementioned wines prove the point that hot climates aren’t as well known for good winemaking. That isn’t true though; they’re just less popular in the general wine world. When you dig deeper into the aspects of good wine, you’ll find some of the best wines come from hot climates. 

Best Climate for Growing Wine Grapes

Everything we’ve talked about, from Napa climates to hot climates, goes to show there is no one single best climate for growing wine grapes. Yes, there are climates that are best for certain kinds of grapes.

However, you can get great wines from any climate if you know what to plant and how to craft your wine after the harvest. The best wineries can be opened anywhere, as long as you have a plan.

Best Soil for Growing Grapes for Wine

The best soil for growing grapes for wine are sandy loam, clay loam, and silt loam. For anyone unfamiliar with these soil names (you’re not alone), we’ll start with defining loam. Loam is a mix of clay, silt, and sand. It also has some organic material known as humus (formed by decomposed leaves and other materials) mixed in. 

With that definition in mind, it’s easy to see what sandy loam, clay loam, and silt loam are. It also shows why they’re so great for wine grapes. They all have a mix of each material in them, with the titular material having the greatest amount present in each type. They share properties such as being great for drainage, packing in minerals, and storing nutrients. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow grapes for wine in other soils. That said, running some soil surveys, and using some soils of these types to mix in is a good idea.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wine Country Weather

Of course, there’s always more to learn about climate and how it relates to winemaking and grape growing. The information we tackled is just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to opening your winery, you may want to go to school yourself. You may also find it’s best to hire some experts. You could even take some sommelier classes to learn more about wine in general and hire the right people. 

Before you jump into school and hiring, there are a few frequently asked questions that’ll help you along the way.

What Climate Do Grapes Grow Best In?

Grapevines are best suited to grow in places with long, warm summers, and rainy winters. That’s why Oregon is so well known for great wine, that climate definition is the definition of Oregon weather. Of course, it’s not just Oregon. If you have an option for where you want to set up shop, looking for that climate is a good start.

What Kind of Weather Makes Good Wine?

For the most part, great wines come from places with warm weather during the day and cool nights. When you know what you’re looking for, you can taste the effects of the weather in a glass of wine. It can also depend on rainfall and frost. Wine can also be affected by fires, storms, and other intense weather conditions.

Can You Grow Wine in a Tropical Climate?

Technically, yes, you can grow wine grapes in a tropical climate. Tropical climates even have the surprising benefit of being able to yield two crops a year, as the weather is always amenable to grape-growing. However, tropically-grown grapes will get you a unique wine, as the weather is different than the places grapes are typically grown.

Does Weather Affect Wine?

Yes! Effectively, the flavor of the wine is based in many ways on the weather it was produced in from the ground to the glass.

The changes weather can create in wine are vast, far beyond what we’ve delved into here. From affecting tannins in wine to complete flavor profiles, the weather plays quite a role in wine. 

How Far North Can Wine Grow?

Typically, the best wine-growth regions are located between 30 and 50 degrees latitude, on either side of the equator. If you look at a flat view of the Earth, you can see the best growth areas in:

  • California
  • France
  • Chile
  • South Africa
  • Southern Australia

This means that from US wineries to spots in the south of France, there are many places where great wine can be produced.

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Best Climate for Growing Wine Grapes: Grow and Get It Done

There are many variables that go into the best climate for growing grapes for wine. There’s no one right way to grow your grapes (though others may disagree).

The best thing you can do is decide what type of grapes you want to grow and go from there. If you want to get really into it before you decide, learning some wine terms is a good place to start.