I am afraid that I had to ask a local Master Gardener about your question and then do a little search to find some resources for you. So it appears that most people recognize winter peas as Austrian Winter Peas. it has been recommended as a winter cover crop for homeowners as well as crop producers.
"Austrian winter pea (Pisum sativum) is a cover crop that can be grown alone or mixed with cereal rye. It competes poorly with winter weeds, which can choke it out during mild winters. Gardeners who raise animals can graze them on the Austrian winter pea before turning the crop back into the soil. Some winter pea varieties have the added benefit of producing delicious pea shoots early in the spring." http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS111E/FS111E.pdf
Anyway, there is some discussion about how winter hardy these peas really are and there is obviously some variability, but typically the first hard frost tends to shut them down.
It is a general practice that soaking pea seeds in water prior to planting softens the seed coats so they germinate faster. "If you decide to soak pea seeds, soak them for no longer than a few hours and plant them immediately."
"The Gardener's A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food." by T. Denckla,
I trust this answers your question. Good luck in your endeavors.
Thank you for your time and info. This is just what I needed to know.