Swiss Wine Regions

Grapes

Discover some of the interesting wine grapes Switzerland grows. Also learn more in the Wine Grape Listing.

Botrytis cinerea, a.k.a. Nobel Rot

Botrytis cinerea, or nobel rot. Image by Alan Haenni

Botrytis cinerea, or nobel rot, is a gray mold that infects a variety of plants, including wine grapes here in Switzerland. When it forms on grapes it's called Botrytis Bunch Rot. In contrast to its unpleasant appearance, its effect on wine grapes can be quite pleasant. In short, the Botrytis cinerea fungus pierces grape skins causing dehydration, which concentrates the sugar in the remaining juice. The resulting sweet wine can be exquisite. Read more »

Charming Pinot Noir

Image of a glass of Pinot noirAlthough sometimes called the "queen of grapes, Pinot noir is not one of the superstars of wine, not yet at least, but it certainly has a cult following. Its subtle and mysterious nature appeals to the individualist and its versatile qualities gratify the onephile.

One could think this Burgundy grape is a criminal on the run in Switzerland, given all the names it goes by here. In the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Neuchâtel it may be called Cortaillod or Salvagnin noir. In Ticino it's sometimes Pinot nero, and in the German-speaking areas; Blauburgunder and Klevner (or Clevner). Generally though it's Pinot noir in most of Switzerland and Blauburgunder in the German-speaking areas. Read more »

Digging for Grapes

Recent excavations by the University in Basel, in sediment from Lake du Mont d'Orge, has provided evidence (increases in pollen concentrations), that grapes were cultivated in Valais, Switzerland, almost 3000 years ago.

Thanks to current efforts on the part of some of the vinyards in Valais, you can now find wine made with some of the first grapes ever cultivated, grapes found nowhere else. Read more »

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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

Syrah

A classic red grape variety transplanted from the Côtes-du-Rhône area, Syrah is still somewhat of a rarity here and is grown mainly in Valais and on well-exposed slopes. It produces a spicy, deeply colored, elegant tannic wine that ages well.

Pinot blanc

Pinot blanc is a mutation of Pinot Gris. It may have found its way up the Rhône to Valais with any number of mercenaries returning to Switzerland, and today small quantities are cultivated in many Swiss wine regions. When grown in favorable conditions it produces a fruity wine with good acidity.

Tis better for pearls to pass through the lips of swine than good wine to pass through the lips of the indifferent!

Unknown

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