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WSET ® Level 2 Wine > Climate & Climatic Influences > Flashcards

Flashcards in Climate & Climatic Influences Deck (27)
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What are some environmental factors that help define climate?

  • Heat
  • Sunlight
  • Water availability


What is the growing season for the northern hemisphere?  And for the southern hemisphere?

Growing season for:

  • Northern hemisphere: April - October
  • Southern hemisphere: October - April


What are 3 general terms used to describe climate?

Include the average temperature during the growing season for each term.

  1. Cool
    • avg temp 16.5°C (62°F) or below
  2. Moderate
    • avg temp 16.5° - 18.5°C (62° - 65°F)
  3. Warm
    • avg temp 18.5° - 21°C (65° - 70°F)


What is so important about the temperature of a wine region?

What does it help determine?

The temperature of a wine region helps determine which grape varietals can grow in that region.

If the average temperature for a region's growing season is very cool, such as Champagne, grapes that require lots of warmth and sunshine, such as Grenache, would be unable to ripen in that region.


What is the difference between climate and weather?

Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get.

  • Climate is a region's expected, daily average level of temperature, sunlight, warmth and rainfall over time (for example, Provence's climate is warm or Mediterranean);
  • Weather is what happens day-to-day and what you see outside your window.


What are some ways that weather can affect vintages?

  • Excessive rain
  • Drought
  • Hot vintages
  • Cool vintages
  • Hail
  • Frost


What does it mean when a region has a "cool vintage"?

A cool vintage means the average temperature of the growing season was lower, or cooler, than what is normal for that region.

Usually, cooler vintages yield grapes that are higher in acidity and tarter in fruit flavors because the grapes struggled to ripen.


What does it mean when a region has a "hot vintage"?

A hot vintage means the average temperature of the growing season was higher, or hotter, than what is normal for that region.

Hotter vintages can overripen grapes leading to dried-fruit flavors.  If there is too much sun, the grapes can also sunburn.


What is the biggest threat to a vine during a hot vintage?

Shortage of water

When it's hotter than usual, vines get thirsty and need more water.  If the ground the vines are in is too dry and the vine cannot find water, it will literally shut down and go into survival mode -- it won't even ripen its grapes.


What is the worst-case scenario for a vine in a drought?

Worst-case scenario is that the vine will die from lack of water.

Back-to-back years of below-average rainfall can be made worse if the region also experiences above-average temperatures, e.g. Australia between 2016-2019.


Why would excessive rain be a problem for vines?

  • Fungal diseases can develop and spread
  • If right before harvest, the extra rain can bloat the grapes and dilute their flavors


What is the damage hail can do to a vineyard?

Hail can:

  • Perforate leaves, making them unable to photosynthesize
  • Create open wounds in the vine trunk where diseases can thrive
  • Damage the berries making them unusable


What time of year is a vine's risk of frost at its greatest?


Frost threatens flowering and fruit set, and the freezing temperatures can damage new growth.

Frost can greatly reduce that year's crop if it damages the flowers or fruit.


What are some things that can influence climate?

  • Latitude
  • Altitude
  • Bodies of water (oceans, seas, lakes)
  • Rivers
  • Air
  • Clouds/fog/mist
  • Mountains
  • Slope and aspect
  • Soil


Why is latitude the most important climate influencer?

A region's latitude -- how close or far away from the equator it is -- will determine its climate.


The majority of the world's vineyards are located between which two of the earth's latitudes?

30° - 50° north and south of the equator.


How does altitude affect temperature?

Temperatures drop as altitude increases, no matter at what latitude the region is situated.

The cooler temperatures of a higher altitude vineyard generally allow for a longer growing season.


What effect do large bodies of water, such as oceans and seas, have on growing regions?

Large bodies of water help moderate the temperature of a region.

South Africa benefits from cool ocean currents coming up from the Antarctic, whereas northern Europe benefits from the warm ocean currents of the Gulf Stream.


What are some ways that rivers can affect a region?

  • Reflect sunlight, which helps protect against frost
  • Provide air circulation, which helps prevent disease
  • Extend the growing season due to the heat it accumulated over the summertime


Where can cool/cold air come from and how does it affect grape-growing areas?

Cool/cold air can come from oceans and seas (as on-shore breezes) or mountains (as downdrafts).

Cool/cold air reduces temperatures in hot vineyards, allowing grapes to ripen more slowly.


How do clouds affect a vineyard?

Clouds block sunlight, and it's sunlight a vine needs to photosynthesize.  So if photosynthesis is slowed, ripening is delayed.


What sort of influence does fog have on a vineyard?

Fog, which hovers at ground level, cools down vineyards and moderates heat.

Areas known for fog include Barolo, coastal California, and coastal Chile.


How can mist influence a vineyard?

Mist encourages Botrytis/noble rot.


How do mountains affect grape-growing regions?

Mountains act as a barricade to protect vineyards from cold air and bad weather.

The result is a phenomenon called a rain shadow effect for vineyards on the leeward side of mountains.  These vineyards will have sunny summers, low rainfall, and dry autums.

Examples of regions with rain shadows include Alsace, France and Mendoza, Argentina.


Vineyards closer to the equator see ___ heat and sunlight.

Vineyards farther away from the equator see ___ heat and sunlight.

Closer see more heat and sunlight

Farther away see less heat and sunlight


Why are slopes and vineyard aspect (which way a vineyard faces) important?

Vineyards on slopes facing the equator will receive more direct heat and sunlight than vineyards facing away from the equator.

A vineyard's aspect - whether it's on flat land, a gentle slope, or a steep hillside - also affects a vine's ability to ripen its grapes.


How can soil affect the temperature of a vineyard?

Whether there are rocks or large stones on the soil's surface.

If there are, those large stones will absorb the day's heat and increase the vineyard's temperature; this added heat helps ripen grapes.

Stones are especially important in areas at more northern latitudes, e.g. Mosel, Germany.