Using Google Earth's Time-lapse function to show the sun's exposure on vineyards around the world.
During the cooler months of the year, grape growing regions rely on as much sunlight in the late afternoon or early morning as they can get. Farmers have been planting the hillsides that have the best exposure to these precious hours of warmth for thousands of years. This helps with maturing the grapes and drying up any moisture left from the early morning dew. Not all terroirs are created equal. In the images above, you can see that on just one hill in the northern Rhône, Hermitage, almost all the vineyards are facing south. The northwest side is completely in the shade most of the morning. Not sure how accurate Google Earth time is, but the Time-lapse reads “9:09 am”.
The Mosel region in Germany is one of the most northerly grape growing regions in the world. Every single drop of light counts. All of the top vineyards are planted southwest facing. Burgundy is known for the Côte d’Or (Golden slopes) because the best vineyards are on the hillsides. In most cases the sweetest spot is in the middle of the hill enjoying a good aspect for draining but also to get the ideal amount of light in the morning. The hills run almost directly north to south, so the vineyards were planted in the small valleys and slopes to facing east. That is also were the best soil is located. It is not always about sun, but as it sets and one part of the vineyard is in the shade and the other is still enjoying the light, you will know why.
The other image is in Montalcino, which is highly influenced by exposure. The video is in the southern hemisphere, where the direction changes and you may find vineyards planted north and northwest. This is a day in Central Otago.