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Wine Growing in areas with a Mediterranean climate

The California climate is often described as a Mediterranean climate type…but what does this mean exactly, and why do vineyards  in this climate type produce world-renowned wines?

Mediterranean Climate California

Big Sur, Central Coast of California — photo

Mediterranean climate characteristics include cool but mild, wet winters and warm to quite hot, dry summers, such as those in the Mediterranean Basin, covering portions of three continents — Europe, Asia and Africa (the middle portion of the map below).

The Mediterranean Region was first proposed by German botanist August Grisebach in the late 19th century.

Commercial crops most associated with this region are wheat, olives, grapes, citrus and lemons.


The original map — via Wikimedia Commons — was created in 1982 by the Central Intelligence Agency

From a Wikipedia article on climate categories in viticulture, the following are wine regions with Mediterranean climates:

  • Tuscany and most other Italian wine regions
  • Most Greek wine regions
  • Most Israeli wine regions
  • Most Lebanese wine regions
  • Most Montenegrin wine regions
  • Southern Rhone Valley
  • Catalonia
  • Languedoc
  • Provence
  • Coastal Portuguese wine region
  • Primorska Slovenian wine region
  • Coastal Croatian wine regions
  • Napa Valley and other coastal California wine regions
  • Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains
  • Western Australia and South Australia wine regions
  • Chilean Central Valley
  • Coastal South African wine regions
  • Western coastal Turkish wine regions

The Mediterranean basin is where viticulture and winemaking grew on a large-scale influenced by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians.

It turns out that the warm dry climate we associate as a Mediterranean climate type — including the weather type in many parts of California — is ideal for growing grapes and creating premium, world-renowned wines!

Although wine making is relatively new to California compared to that in Greece, Italy and Spain, California makes 90% of all the wine produced in America, and is the world’s 4th leading wine producer after France, Italy and Spain.

Related Native Leaf posts:

The Top 15 Wine Producing Countries

Oldest winery? How about 6,100 years ago?

The economic impact of the California wine industry

The “punt” in wine bottles…


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