Swiss Wine Regions

Swiss Wine: Hidden Treasure

Swiss wine, cow bells and the Swiss AlpsCoveted, praised or abused, wine has been studied, debated, fought over, sung about and worshipped from the loftiest pedestals to the grimiest gutters. Originally I was writing about wine in general, for my personal blog, and since I now live in Switzerland it was inevitable that Swiss wine became a topic. Then one day, looking up a couple details about Swiss wine, it was like finding a cleverly packed, pint-sized treasure box. And that I think sums up the Swiss wine industry nicely.

Switzerland is small. Being covered with mountains, lakes and forests, not to mention people, railroads and banks, doesn't leave much room for wine grapes. Yet crammed in this limited space there are over 100 varieties of grapes used in Swiss wine, and even with a single grape you find a diversity of styles, from subtle, elegant wines suitable for the wittiest conversations, to hearty reds at home at a medieval feast, and succulent, honey tinged Ice wines that rival the best Sauternes.

Starting in ancient history, and there is evidence that grapes were cultivated almost 3000 years ago in Valais, the Swiss wine story is a page-turner. It has elements of mystery, romance, greed, intrigue and, I hope that if I look hard enough: sex…and who hasn't resorted to a bottle of wine in pursuit thereof?

The more I investigated the more I got hooked, and also frustrated. There's lots of general information on wine in books, magazines and the Internet, but very little information to be found specifically about Swiss wine. Luckily there are a couple non-English sites about Swiss wine, some are obvious labors of love, and I am indebted to these sites as they where helpfull in getting me started. More importantly they planted the seed which you see developing on this website.  

With Fine Swiss Wine, I want to create a website where someone interested in Swiss wine, like me, could find what they're looking for (except the sex maybe). This website has some general wine information, but mostly it's about the surprisingly diverse offering of Swiss wine. And since my research should get me looking around the country, I will also feature Swiss wine related sightseeing tours, tips and events. Where these events are "suitable for families" [sic]: I will provide ample warning.

"In a civilized country they drink wine."— Charlie Chaplin

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Chasselas

In contrast to its native France where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in Switzerland. Basically neutral in character, it reflects the nuances of the terroirs where it’s grown. Chasselas may be one of the first grape varieties ever cultivated and is one of, if not the dominant wine grapes grown in Switzerland.

Garanoir

A new variety (Gamay x Reichensteiner), developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud), Garanoir ripens early. Can give interesting blends with Gamay, Gamaret or sometimes Pinot Noir.

Kerner

Named after local poet and physician, Justinus Kerner, the Kerner grape was hybridized in 1929 in Lauffen in the Württemberg region. A hybrid of the white Riesling and the red Trollinger (Schiava grossa), it resembles the Riesling in character. It is being vinified in limited quantities in Valais, but its future in Valais dosen’t look too bright. It continues to do well in Germany, and on a smaller basis in Austria and Italy.

A remedy for the moroseness of old age.

Plato

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