Jun 27 2019
Jan. 4, 2016 - Niagara-on-the-Lake, Trevor Falk, McNab Rd & Scott St. Photo Credit - Denis Cahill

People often assume that warm climate wine regions experience more success than cool climate wine regions. We’re here to put this rumour to rest! The truth is, both regions face their own challenges when it comes to growing wine grapes. In the end, mother nature calls the shots.

Cool Climate Wine Regions

Ontario is considered a cool climate wine region, with our wine producing regions sitting at a latitude between 41° to 44° north. We share approximately the same latitude as Burgundy, France, another major cool climate wine producing region. Grapes grown in this climate typically don’t ripen as quickly as warmer climates, which results in lower natural sugar levels and higher acidity. This is one of the reasons why Ontario makes some of the world’s finest, crisp, and refreshing white wines!

Common obstacles that cool climate regions face is late spring and/or early fall frost, and short or cool summers, which hinders the ripening of grapes. In Ontario, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by the Great Lakes, which offsets the challenging effects of being a cool climate region. This is due to the Great Lake effect.

A popular misconception is that cooler regions are too cold to ripen red grapes. Cool climate regions experience a very hot growing season, followed by a long fall with cool nights, allowing late-ripening red varieties such as Cabernet Franc to flourish. Other varietals that grow exceptionally well in cool climate wine regions include Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Baco Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Warm Climate Wine Regions

Places such as California, Australia, and Southern Italy, just to name a few, are considered warm climate wine regions. Grapes grown in these regions experience more sunshine, consistent weather, and a longer fall ripening period, allowing the wines made from these grapes to have higher alcohol levels.

Warm climate wine regions often struggle with retaining acidity in the grapes, and keeping their wines tasting fresh. To solve this problem, winemakers add acid and even lower alcohol levels. Grapes grown in this warmer climate have thicker skins, leading to higher tannin levels.

Common varietals grown in warm climate wine regions include Zinfandel, Grenache, and Shiraz.

Sources: Ontario Canada, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Folly