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

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.

Chénin blanc

The versatile “Pinot de la Loire” produces some fine wine in Valais. Like the Chasselas, it provides a neutral canvas for the winemaker’s art and terroir. Originating in the Loire valley of France, it has no relation or similarity to Pinot blanc.

Cabernet Sauvignon

A classic international variety, Cabernet Sauvignon is marginally cultivated in Geneva, Vaud, Valais and Ticino. Besides being vinified as a varietal, it is blended with other Bordeaux grape varieties, or with old Valais varieties.

He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long.

Martin Luther

Swiss Alps, cows, wine bottle and large clock face in Bern, Switzerland

Fine Swiss Wine

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