Swiss Wine Regions

Big and Small Graubünden

Tucked in the southeast corner of Switzerland is Graubünden, or Grisons. In the north of the canton, between Bonaduz und Fläsch, is its main wine area the Bündner Herrschaft. It is here, thanks to its geographic situation and the Föhn, that some of the best red wines in German-speaking Switzerland come from, and its speciality is the Blauburgunder (Pinot noir). Although over 80% of the wine from Graubünden is red, they also produce some fine white wines, including a bit of sweet Freisamer wine.

Graubünden is not a small canton, but everything in it seems to be. The total area under grape cultivation is just over 400 Hectares (ha); the entire area of Misox only has around 30 ha. Here the 380 vintners, some with only a couple ha, pursue their craft, and a majority of them (62 %) do their own vinification and marketing. Many of them are working together in various organizations to share logistic and promotional resources.

Trivia: Graubünden is the only canton of Switzerland with three official languages: German (54%), Romansh (31%), and Italian (15%).

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Aligot

Originates from Burgundy and spread through France. Originally called “Plant du Rhin” when it was brought to Geneva in the early 1900’s, and is now something of a specialty in Geneva. It was also introduced into Valais as an alternative to Johannisberg, but it didn’t fare so well and today survives in only a few small areas in Unterwallis.

Himbertscha

Himbertscha is one of the rare indigenous white varieties from Haut-Valais, mostly at home in the vineyards of Visperterminen (Upper Valais). The name Himbertscha is said to come from a raspberry (himbeer in German) taste of the wine himbeerartigen. Jose-Marie Chanton who specializes in cultivating the old vines from Wallis makes this wine available under the quality label “Brantignon”. He also cultivates the Himbertscharebe, another “rediscovered” old Walliser white wine.

Sémillon

Hard to believe that Sémillon’s main claim to fame is its propensity to rot, but because of its soft skin Sémillon is prone to Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. “noble rot”). The “rot” concentrates the acid and sugar in the grape, and the resulting wine can be complex, rich, sweet, and aromatic. In short: pretty damn nice. The best known of this sweet style wine is Sauternes, coming from the Sauternais region of the Graves, near Bordeaux in France.

Sémillon can also make an elegant dry white wine, but since it can be short on acidity, it is often vinified with Sauvignon blanc.

Wine is sunlight, held together by water!

Galileo Gallilei

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