Continental

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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continental, climate is one with a high degree of continentality, defined for any place as the difference between the average mean temperature of its hottest month and that of its coldest month. Climates with a wide annual range are called continental; those with a narrow range, maritime. The former tend to be in the interiors of the larger continents; the latter, near oceans or other large water bodies.

The most continental viticultural climates are those of central and eastern Europe, together with inland northern America (see russia and canada, for example). The European west coastal and most Mediterranean viticultural regions rank as intermediate, while the most maritime viticultural climate of all is that of madeira. All viticultural regions of the southern hemisphere, even those well inland, are classed (in this sense) as maritime. That is because the total land mass of the southern hemisphere is small relative to that of the oceans, which thus dominate temperatures.