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 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.
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
- 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.
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