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

Humagne Rouge

An alpine red variety that is a specialty in Valais, this vine is no relation to the similarly named Humagne Blanche. Humagne Rouge is a hardy, late ripening grape whose planted surface has increased largely during the last 20 years. It produces a fine wine, low in tannin with a slightly wild character that is ideal with game dishes.

Vieux Muscat du Pays

A very old small berry Valais grape, difficult to cultivate. It is an aromatic specialty limited almost exclusively to Valais. Some clone or mutation of the Muscat is grown on almost every continent.

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

Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man.

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