Swiss Wine Regions

History

Switzerland’s wine and grapes have a long and robust history.

Weinbaumuseum am Zürichsee (Viticulture Museum)

Viticulture Museum, Au, Lake Zurich, SwitzerlandIt's rare to describe a museum as “welcoming”, but the Viticulture Museum is welcoming. Located on the peninsula Au (near Wädenswil) on Lake Zürich, the Viticulture Museum is both a museum and a focal point for people interested in Swiss wine and wine making. It offers both a historical perspective as well as addressing changes confronting Swiss winemakers today. On the day I visited they held a demonstration of barrel making, which is an endangered craft: there are currently three barrel makers in Switzerland and only one apprentice. Read more »

Amphora

A type of ceramic vase, used for transporting and storing wine in ancient times.

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Altar wine

The wine used by the Catholic Church in celebrations of the Eucharist.

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Wine is good for you

Wine has long been valued for its medicinal benefits - it figures in almost all the remedies recorded by Hippocrates, from a general antiseptic to cooling fevers. The grape has been part of the triumvirate of good throughout the middle ages, and the triumvirate are those benevolent institutions: the church, hospitals, and vineyards. Read more »

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.

Planscher

Planscher belongs to a group of grapes that do well in the Alpine regions of Italy and in Valais, Switzerland. An ancient white wine grape vine once found in the Rhone valley, it was close to being extinct. Today small amounts of Planscher grow in Visperterminen, Canton Valais.

Sémillon

Hard to believe that Sémillon’s main claim to fame is its propensity to rot, but because of its soft skin Sémillon is prone to Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. “noble rot”). The “rot” concentrates the acid and sugar in the grape, and the resulting wine can be complex, rich, sweet, and aromatic. In short: pretty damn nice. The best known of this sweet style wine is Sauternes, coming from the Sauternais region of the Graves, near Bordeaux in France.

Sémillon can also make an elegant dry white wine, but since it can be short on acidity, it is often vinified with Sauvignon blanc.

Cabernet will rape you and pinot noir seduces you. ... Cabernet will throw you down and rip your clothes off, and pinot noir subtly convinces you to take them off yourself.

Old French Saying

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