Definition - What does Continental Climate mean?
A continental climate refers to those regions that are situated inland or in the interior of a landmass. It also describes a climate with wide temperature ranges and diurnal variations with varying degrees between hot and cold seasons. On average, continental climates tend to have a lower temperature average with lower humidity and less wind than maritime or coastal climates.
WineFrog explains Continental Climate
The interior of a continent has many different characteristics, including daily variations in temperatures, more dust in the air, little cloud cover, and lower rainfall with most precipitation happening in the summer. These influences are seen in the characteristics of the wine grown in these regions; for example, a Pinot Noir from the interior will differ from one grown on the coast.
Grapes grown in continental climate regions are not as ripe when they are picked, therefore, they have a lower sugar content with less sugar converted into alcohol. This low sugar content creates a more tart character within wines as well, Chardonnays grown inland will have a greenish tint and cause the mouth to pucker due to a lower sugar content and higher acidity.
Examples of continental climate regions are:
- The Columbia Valley in Washington state
- The Burgundy Region
- Loire Valley in France
- The Italian Piedmont region.