Swiss Wine Regions

Digging for Grapes

Recent excavations by the University in Basel, in sediment from Lake du Mont d'Orge, has provided evidence (increases in pollen concentrations), that grapes were cultivated in Valais, Switzerland, almost 3000 years ago.

Thanks to current efforts on the part of some of the vinyards in Valais, you can now find wine made with some of the first grapes ever cultivated, grapes found nowhere else.

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Cornalin

An ancient and indigenous alpine variety found only in Valais, Cornalin gives a wine that is fruity with a fine bouquet and intense purple-red color. The slightly rustic hint makes it a good companion for game dishes.

Humagne Blanche

Only planted in Valais today, Humagne blanche* is another of the very old Swiss grapes, probably brought in by the Romans. Having a high iron content, and supposedly health-giving properties, this wine was decreed a “health wine” (Krankenwein) for centuries. The old written documents in which this wine is referred to as vinum hum-anum date from the 12th and 14th Centuries. It’s also called Kinderbettenwein or baby crib wine. I’ll bet those kids didn’t have much to cry about.

*no relation to the Humagne Rouge

Freisamer

The Freisamer plays more of a role in Graubünden but has a small presence in a few other cantons. It’s a hybrid of Silvaner x Pinot gris, developed in Freiburg in the Breisgau region. A temperamental grape that puts great demands on the type of soil and location—do I hear you say “terroir”?—it’s been trying to make a name for itself since the sixties but hasn’t really taken off.

Tis better for pearls to pass through the lips of swine than good wine to pass through the lips of the indifferent!

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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