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

Gouais Blanc

A promiscuous grape. Not good for much, but with a long, long line of descendents, including the noble Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Possibly from Croatia, it’s called Heunisch Weiss in Central Europe.

The name Gouais is comes from ‘gou’, which is a scornful word from old French referring to its standing as the grape of the peasants. Very prevalent in the Ile-de-France and in the Champagne during the Middle Ages and perhaps brought into Valais by the descendants of the Ligurians.

Acidic and with little residual sugar, it’s primarily used to blend with low acidic wine to give it a bit of liveliness. Ampelographic studies in the old vineyards of Oberwallis have found a red Gwäss with the same characteristics as the white Gwäss. Almost abandoned, it survives in Haut-Valais hiding under the alias of Gwäss, thanks to Mr. Josef-Marie Chanton, http://www.chanton.ch/home.html

Durize

Durize is a red wine grape, possibly indigenous, grown in the Valais district of Switzerland

Chasselas

In contrast to its native France where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in Switzerland. Basically neutral in character, it reflects the nuances of the terroirs where it’s grown. Chasselas may be one of the first grape varieties ever cultivated and is one of, if not the dominant wine grapes grown in Switzerland.

A remedy for the moroseness of old age.

Plato

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