Frequently Asked Question #13:
Q: What is the climate like in Piedmont?
A: Piedmont is the second largest province of Italy, with a very diverse climate range. While the North of the province is dominated by the highest mountains of Europe and has a continental climate, the South - where our properties are located - is only 30 miles from the Ligurian coast, the so-called Riviera, with weather influenced by the warm Mediterranean sea.
Piedmont's wine region has the best climate in mainland Italy. The raw data that substantiates this remarkable claim merits careful examination:
|City||Region||Rainfall per annum (inches)|
1. All data (except Olbia, Palermo and Genoa) from weatherbase.com
2. Data for Olbia, Palermo and Genoa from euroweather.net
3. Asti data recorded at San Damiano d'Asti, 8 miles south-west of the town of Asti
4. Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan and Genoa are all wetter than London, England, which has 29.7 inches of rainfall per year
The diversity of the climate in north-western Italy is evident in this table. Although Asti (in the Piedmont wine region) is roughly halfway between Turin and Genoa, it receives much less rainfall than either of them. In fact, Asti is one of the driest places in Italy - just as the table suggests.
Most significantly, the table reveals the key reason why Italy's best wines come from South Piedmont. The wine region of South Piedmont receives only two-thirds of the rainfall of the Chianti region of Tuscany (between Florence and Siena), which means that - more importantly for the vines - it receives more sunshine. The more sunshine that growing vines receive, the better the quality of the wine that can be produced.
The reasons for the Piedmont wine region's extraordinary microclimate are well understood. The high mountains along the Swiss border to the north and the French border to the west tend to deflect weather fronts coming from those directions, and to 'capture' weather that comes from the south and east: this is known as the rain shadow effect. Because weather fronts come from the north and west more frequently than from the south and east, the overall effect of the region's topography on its climate is a positive one. Note that Turin and Milan are too close to these mountains to benefit from this effect, while Genoa is too far away.
The Piedmont wine region has four seasons, with a long and hot summer with occasional storms, a warm and pleasant fall, a short winter with occasional frost and snow, and a spring that starts in February or early March. Endlessly overcast skies are luckily unknown.
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