Swiss Wine Regions

Schaffhausen, Land of Blauburgunder

Red wine grapes and red leaves

Blauburgunder, did I hear you say? Oh yeah, Schaffhausen’s nickname of Blauburgunderland is well deserved. Blauburgunder, or Pinot noir for the rest of us, is by far the dominant wine grape in Schaffhausen.

Red wine makes up nearly 70% of wine production in Schaffhausen, and most of that is Pinot noir, some of which finds itself in a nice late-harvest wine. There is also Cabernet sauvignon, Diolinoir, Garanoir, Merlot, and Regent; not to mention Dorenoir, which is a blend of Pinot noir, Regent (itself a cross) and Dornfelder.

Riesling-Sylvaner (Muller-Thurgau) is the leading white wine grape in Schaffhausen, with Chasselas, Chardonnay, Kerner, Pinot blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer (sometime making a flétri dessert wine), rounding out the white wine grape selection.

The Romans probably brought wine north to the canton of Schaffhausen, but it was the monks that spread the joys of wine around. The well-tended vineyards on the hills above Hallau, Oberhallau, Osterfingen, Schaffhausen, Thayngen, Trasadingen, Wilchingen, Wisental and others, benefit from warm, dry summers, cool winters, and the lowest amount of rainfall in eastern Switzerland. Today the little canton of Schaffhausen produces a rather impressive amount of wine. Good wine.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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.

Müller-Thurgau

Developed in Germany by Prof. Müller (from Thurgau), this early maturing white grape variety is one of the principal white grapes cultivated in German-speaking Switzerland. Produces elegant, aromatic wines when grown in cool temperate climates. In warmer locations these qualities tend to be masked by a certain heaviness and lack of acidity.

Age appears to be best in four things--old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

L. Bacon

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