Coldest Wine Regions/ Vineyards On Earth

By: WineMarketDate: 08/07/2014

Australia has built its reputation in the wine world with wines that seem to reflect the warm days, comfortable nights, broad open spaces and generous flavours brought from perfectly ripe grapes. What most people overlook is the diversity of Australian wine regions, particularly the cooler ones, the ones with impressive elevation and those that get down-right frosty. Australian wine regions can be bloody cold.

Regions like Orange in New South Wales with vineyards stretching to a chilly, 1000 metres above sea level, or wines produced in the shadows of the snowy Victorian Alps in the Alpine Valley region, or try wines from the southern reaches of Tasmania where the Antarctic wind whips up off the ocean. That being said, most will be surprised to hear that the coldest mainland wine region in Australia is the often-overlooked region of Henty of western Victoria, a region famed for Riesling and cool, restrained red wines.

Around the world, there’s a myriad of regions in cool places, often blanketed by snow in winter, and finding summer a lot less potent and warm than more temperate regions. Throwing on a ski-jacket and wandering the high mountains of Switzerland, or journeying to the extreme south of Chile, or further up north in Germany, all reveal wine regions of reputation and quality.

1.Mosel, Germany

It’s one of Europe’s northernmost wine regions and showcases a dazzling array of vineyards perched on impossibly steep slopes at vertiginous heights. Mountains tower above the Mosel River below, and on them, grapes grow to produce some of the world’s most spectacular Riesling wines.

Snow regularly covers the mountain vineyards and frosty, sub-zero days mean that winter is perhaps best avoided for a cellar door trip. That being said, charming villages break up the landscape, and open fires blaze in the cooler months. The long, cold winter means that vines take a while to wake up, but when they do, the slower ripening period produces exceptional, balanced and delicious white wines.

2.Champagne, France

It’s easy to forget that the region that hosts some of the wine world’s most exclusive brands is also France’s most northerly, formal wine growing region. Champagne’s cool climate contributes to the complexity and poise found in the Champagne wines of the region – the long, slow, cool ripening period concentrates and finesses flavours in the stalwart grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The north of France is prone to frost, hail and of course snow, and Champagne region isn’t without experiencing one, two or all three of those weather afflictions, most years. That being said, the grand houses of the region are well versed in heating, or you could just duck down into one of the deep cellars underground and hide out for the winter.

3.Patagonia, Argentina

Most people tend to assume that Argentina and its wine regions come with warm days, maybe some beachside activities and a cool place to hide from the blazing sun; but in reality, Argentina’s wine regions are mostly found at high, cool elevation in the Andes mountains (like Mendoza) or are far from beach-front villas and swim-up cocktail bars.

Patagonia is Argentina’s most southerly wine growing area, and though mostly vineyards are found at lower elevations that say, Mendoza, the further south, the cooler it gets for growing grapes. While summers can actually be reasonably moderate, winters, though dry, can be very cold. That being said, the region is becoming an increasingly exciting place to grow Pinot Noir, with natural acidity and inherent elegance in the wines coming from the extended ripening periods.

4.Henty, Victoria

When famed Henty producers Crawford River and Seppelt decided to establish vineyards in and around the Henty wine-growing region, they did so with the knowledge that the winters were long and bitterly cold, and that summers, though sunny, could flip into cooler than expected nights. Growing grapes requires patience, with harvesting taking place at the end of the Australian vintage season, and wines showing a restraint often overlooked by those seeking maximum impact or easy ‘wow factor’.

However, Australia’s coldest mainland wine region produces some of Australia’s best Riesling wines, particularly from Crawford River’s unique site, and some exceptional white wines from Drumborg vineyard, which would be known as one of Australia’s premier vineyards. Red wines are no slouches, with medium bodied, gently savoury flavours and a big dusting of pepper and spice often found in darker wines. It’s remote in terms of wine regions, but big on reward.

5.Central Otago, New Zealand

Some of the more dramatic scenes from Lord Of The Rings movies were filmed in the blisteringly cold, alpine reaches and low valleys of Central Otago, and you wouldn’t find many winemakers from the region without expert level skiing skills. This is the southern most wine region in the southern hemisphere, a place where Pinot Noir is king, and ski-fields break up the land under vine.

While winter can be wickedly cold and snow-filled, summers are generally dry and unusually warm. The heat helps produce robust flavour in the region’s Pinot Noir wines, and perhaps make the winemakers just that little bit happier. That being said, the Central Otago wine region is one of the most spectacular in terms of scenery, in the world, so that’s got to help too.

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