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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Many wine grapes are grown at 45 degrees north latitude, but none that I know of are grown at 45 degrees south. Why is that?

—Jeff B., Poulsbo, Wash.

Dear Jeff,

Ah, yes, the 45th parallel—that magical line, situated halfway between the equator and the North Pole, which runs through some of the best vineyards in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere it's not quite as distinguished, though it runs smack-dab through the middle of New Zealand's Central Otago wine region and somewhat near wine regions in Argentina and Chile.

Every location along either 45th parallel will experience the same angle of the sun and length of day. But that's it—and that alone doesn't mean a region is ideal for grapegrowing. Vintners also have to consider things like climate, weather systems, soil, water, topology, altitude and ocean currents. After all, that 45th parallel runs through some really amazing coastal properties with well-drained soils and pleasant breezes ... and it also runs through mountains, lakes, arid areas, cities, forests and swamps.

—Dr. Vinny

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