A Word from the Wine Trail by Brad Knapp of Pinnacle Ridge

In the winery, we often get visitors from outside of the Lehigh Valley area that ask questions about the kinds of grapes and wines that we are able to make within the Lehigh Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). Wine growing regions are defined by several factors including climate/weather, soils, topography etc., all of which affect which varieties of grapes can be successfully grown and the styles of the wines made from them.

When I am faced with a wine from a region that I am not familiar with, the first thing I try to understand is the general climate. Is this a region that displays a Mediterranean climate or a more temperate climate?

For me, one of the simplest ways of determining the difference between these two broad categories of climates is by understanding how the grass grows. What does that mean? If the grass turns brown early in the season (for example in May in the northern hemisphere) and stays brown all season, then this would be a sign of a Mediterranean climate.

If, on the other hand, the grass is often green during the summer, then this is a sign of a more temperate climate with rainfall throughout the year. More temperate areas, like ours, often produce a mix of red and white wines, whereas the emphasis is on red wine in areas with a more Mediterranean climate.

I often compare the Lehigh Valley AVA to areas of northern France (the Loire Valley comes to mind) and eastern Europe (Austria, Hungary, etc.). These areas grow a mix of red and white wines. The reds tend to be more middle-weight wines and white wines are made in an aromatic style.