Priorat encompasses several different microclimates. Generally, the climate is more extreme than most continental areas although there are marked contrasts between valleys and highlands. Thus, there are cold northern winds, but these are buffered by the Montsant massif, and the warm Mistral blows in from the east. Summers are long, hot and dry (maximum temperature 35Â°) while winters are cold (minimum temperature -4Â°C). There is the occasional risk of frost, hailstones and drought. The average annual temperature is 15Â°C, and average annual rainfall is 400-600 mm.
Unlike most prized vineyards in the Northern hemisphere, which face south and capture maximum sun and heat, many in Priorat face northeast. Adequate sun and heat is never a problem in Priorat. Quite the contrary, the northeast exposure means the shade of the afternoon protects the grapes from the intense heat of the sun. The elevation of the vineyards and their exposure to the sea also mitigate the heat.
|Priorat vineyards often face northeast to protect grapes from the afternoon sun|