Climate & Weather

Climate and Weather

The longer ripening period for grapes north of the Alps yields fresher, fruitier wines.

Germany is among the most northerly wine-growing countries of the world. It is primarily the warm Gulf Stream and its tempering influence on western Europe's climate that enables grapes to ripen this far north. Nevertheless, the climate and weather in Germany's wine-growing regions pose challenges to viticulture that are unknown in the Mediterranean region.

During vegetation, there is much less sunshine in Germany than in more southerly wine-growing regions. The periods beyond the danger of frost are shorter and the average monthly temperatures are lower.

The bulk of precipitation in Germany occurs in the summer, while in the southern wine-growing countries, it rains primarily in the spring, autumn and winter. Here, rainfall generally declines during the final stage of ripening; in the south, rainfall increases dramatically as the harvest approaches. These climatic factors have a pronounced influence on German wine.

Moderately warm summers, favorable amounts of precipitation during vegetation and the long ripening period enable the grapes to develop and retain their fruity acidity -  the hallmark of German wines, particularly the whites. In Germany, the quantity and quality of each vintage depends considerably on weather conditions, a factor that plays much less of a role further south.

In terms of climate, the minimum requirements for grape-growing include:

  •     1,300 hours of sunshine annually
  •     an average temperature of at least 15°C (59°F) during blossoming and
  •     18°C (64°F) during vegetation
  •     annual precipitation of at least 400-500 ml per square meter.