Cold Country Vines & Wines


Warm Climate, Cool Climate and Cold Climate Wine Grapes

Posted on

Vineyard grand opening

Cold Climate Wine Grapes at Cold Country Vines & Wines Vineyard in Year 3.  Located in Kewaunee Wisconsin

Many people ask us what is the difference between warm climate, cool climate and cold climate wine grapes.  This is where it’s at with wine grapes today. Warm climate grapes are grown in many parts of the world including Southern California.  The well-known regions of California such as Napa and Sonoma, are somewhat in between warm and cool climate.  Opinion can vary, but most wine experts are well aware of the fact that cooler climates, especially during the important veraison (ripening) time frame, make for much richer wines. If it’s too cool, adequate ripening  becomes a problem. Then, to make it a little more confusing, there is the varietal factor. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel can take a significant amount of heat and still produce a somewhat complex wine. On the other hand, Pinot Noir and Riesling fare much better in cooler climates, in fact it’s hard to make good wine from either in warm regions. Again many wine lovers would argue these points, especially those who prefer Rhone style wines.

And now you have cold climate grapes to consider.  New varietals cross bred with native American grapes and vinifera, (traditional European varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling), have been developed at the University of Minnesota, Michigan State, and Purdue, among others.  These newcomers are making quite a stir in the wine industry. Grapes such as Marquette, Petite Pearl, and now the dry white Itasca grape are producing wines that may not surpass the depth and complexity of the traditional varietals, but are making great strides in that direction.  Proof of this is in the simple fact that California grape production has dropped as a percentage of total US production for the past 10 years.

So what does this mean to you the consumer?  More choices!  You no longer have to look at only purchasing wines from your local liquor store that are the leftovers from the West Coast or Europe.  You can sample wines of medium and high quality produced right in your own state, even if you live in the frigid Midwest.  Now here is the best part.  If you haven’t started spending a portion of your vacation doing some wine tastings, you should definitely start.  It will take you to the most beautiful places on earth.  It is almost always the high point of any day trip or vacation.  When my wife and I are out of town for business or pleasure, we always try to include a winery visit or two.  It is one of the more pleasant ways to spend an afternoon.


  1. Stoeger – Cold Country Vines & Wines