The role of Temperature on Wine Grapes
To fully ripen, grapes need a sufficient amount of heat during the growing season. Many of the vine’s metabolic processes will stop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, winter temperatures must be cold enough to encourage the vine to go dormant. Like so many aspects of quality grape growing regions, moderation is crucial.
Throughout the world, high quality wine regions experience relatively similar temperatures. Most of these regions are between the 30th and 50th parallels in either hemisphere. Because temperature has such a profound impact on acidity in grapes, viticulturalists must match the varietal to the temperature of the region.
Fuller bodied grapes generally like warmer temperatures. These include Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. Wines made from these varietals have assertive flavors and complex textures on the palate.
Andre Tchelistcheff and Maynard Amerine were pioneers in the science of varietal selection based on climate. Amerine developed the UC Davis Heat Summation Scale to assist in this process.
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