Swiss Wine Regions

Wine Regions of Thurgau

Map of Thurgau

Bucolic Thurgau is better known for orchards and strawberries, but this north eastern corner of Switzerland has a history of vinticulture dating back to at least the Romans. Although many of Thurgau's vineyards are near the shores of Lake Constance, a majority of Thurgau’s vineyards are scattered between the castles on the hills and in valleys of the Canton.

Once, wine production exceeded that of fruit juice, but the Thurgau wine growers adapted to changes in the Swiss wine industry—and the world wine market in general—and emphasis shifted from quantity to quality. They also set a goal of preserving and promoting wine production on rural family farms, so that today there are approximately 240 independent Thurgau wine producers, a mix of independent vintners, cooperatives and distributors. About 80 percent of Thurgau’s wine production follows integrated production guidelines.

Most wine from Thurgau comes from grapevines on south-facing hills in the north eastern corner of Thurgau, between Schaffhausen and lake Constance. Two varieties—Pinot Noir and Müller-Thurgau*—account for almost 90% of Thurgau wine production. These two grapes, however offer up quite an assortment of wine, including lively Rose, fruity white Federweisser, the "rose like" Schiller, an elegant straw wine, full-bodied barrique wine, and some exclusive ice wine.

And like elsewhere in Switzerland, the wine producers like to throw a variety of grapes, old and new, into the mix. Ten years ago there were only a handful of grape species used in Thurgau wine production. Today Thurgau adds over 20 varieties of grapes to Switzerland’s wine selection. So besides Pinot Noir, Thurgau’s red wine grapes include Gamay x Reichensteiner, Gamaret, Garanoir, Dunkelfelder, Dornfelder and Diolinoir. Alongside Müller-Thurgau, the Thurgau white wine grape camp includes Pinot gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonney.

Thurgau’s wine areas can be divided into 5 regions:

1) The Lauchental, south of Frauenfeld, is the smallest wine production region in Thurgau. It produces popular wines around Stettfurt, Frauenfeld and Ettenhausen (Aadorf).

2) The Thur valley is divided into three regions. The lower region of the Thur valley is the largest wine region in Thurgau, and includes Neunforn, Warth/Weiningen, Uesslingen, Dietingen and Iselisberg. Uesslingen is the largest wine making community in Thurgau. In the center of the upper Thur Valley are the wine regions of Weinfelden and Märstetten/Ottoberg. The Upper Thur valley has the smaller Thurgau wine communities of Schloss Hagenwil, Amlikon, Götighofen, Sulgen, Buchackern, und Mauren.

3) The three lakes of Seebach make for a balanced climate, and includes the communities of Dettighofen, Nussbaumen, Hüttwilen and Herden.

4) Along the River Rhine around Schlattingen, Basadingen and Diessenhofen are a few more hectares of grapevines.

5) Many of the vineyards in Untersee (lower lake) and the island of Reichenau are north or west sloping rather than the typical south-facing, but the villages of Eschenz, Mammern, Steckborn, Berlingen, Salenstein (Arenenberg), Ermatingen and Tägerwilen manage to produce fruity, aromatic Müller-Thurgau wines.

*Müller-Thurgau, oddly enough, is called Riesling x Sylvaner in Switzerland. Odd because the hybrid was developed by Hermann Müller, who was born here in Thurgau.

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains

The Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, is one of the oldest grape varieties still around. It’s linked to the Anathelicon moschaton grape used by the Ancient Greeks, and the Apiane grapevines of the Romans. A white grape, it’s a member of the Muscat family. The name comes from its small berry and tight clusters. it’s called Muscat Canelli in Valais, but also goes under lots of names: Muscat Blanc, Moscato Bianco, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat d'Alsace, Muskateller, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel Rosé and Sárgamuskotály. Theoretically a white grape, the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains can also produce berries that are pink or reddish brown.

Marsanne Blanche

Originally from the steep slopes of the Côtes-du-Rhône, the Marsanne blanche grape found its way up the Rhone to Valais in Switzerland, and is known here under the name of Ermitage (or Hermitage).

Chardonnay

A vigorous and adaptable vine from Burgundy, Chardonnay grows pretty much everywhere that wine is made. Although production is not so high in Switzerland, award-winning wines have come out of Geneva, Valais and Neuchâtel.

New loves and old wine, give a man these and he never refines.

Francis Beeding

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