Swiss Wine Regions

Mais Oui, Geneva

First joining the Swiss confederation in 1815, the canton of Geneva lies in the Rhône valley between Jura and the Alps. Almost surrounded by France, and one of the smallest cantons, it is one of Switzerland's most important wine regions. Geneva is Switzerland's 3rd largest Swiss wine region and accounts for about 10% of national production. Wine production has gone on uninterrupted here on Lake Geneva and around the city for almost 2,000 years.

Often going under the alias "Perlan", the Chasselas grape is the principal white wine grape of Geneva and it accounts for over half of the white wine production. However Geneva does well internationally with the more well known wine grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Riesling Silvaner (Müller Thurgau), Sauvignon blanc, Gewürztraminer, Scheurebe and Aligoté.

As for the red wine grapes in the Geneva wine region, Gamay does particularly well in this area resulting in a dense, fruity wine. In Geneva you will also find Cabernet sauvignon, Gamaret, Garanoir, Kerner, Merlot, Pinot noir and Syrah. It's worth mentioning that a recent flurry of top international awards for Swiss Syrah wines have focused attention on Switzerland.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Blatina

A red wine grape of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Müller-Thurgau

Developed in Germany by Prof. Müller (from Thurgau), this early maturing white grape variety is one of the principal white grapes cultivated in German-speaking Switzerland. Produces elegant, aromatic wines when grown in cool temperate climates. In warmer locations these qualities tend to be masked by a certain heaviness and lack of acidity.

Rèze

Rèze is an extremely rare white variety found only in Valais. Not often produced as a varietal, Rèze is blended with other Vieux Plants of Valais. Rèze was also used to make the historic “vin des glaciers”, an amber colored wine produced in Val d’Anniviers using the solera technique.

No longer done today, one method in the past was to store Rèze in larch wood barrels, which gave the wine resinous flavor similar to the Greek Retsina, and masking some grape flavor.

Age appears to be best in four things--old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

L. Bacon

Swiss Alps, cows, wine bottle and large clock face in Bern, Switzerland

Fine Swiss Wine

Discover Switzerland’s odd grapes, small producers, and eclectic tastes