Swiss Wine Regions

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.

The church, some of them at least, had a tradition of helping the poor, and hospitals are one way of helping, which is why many of the first hospitals were in fact started by, and were part of, Monasteries . Most of them also had the tradition of making life comfortable for their members, and wine, in addition to its medicinal uses, was both enjoyable and profitable. This symbionic relationship was well established by the time of the Barefooted Monastery near Zurich. First documented in 1247, the monastery was renamed "Holy Spirit Hospital" in 1293.

Wine's medicinal and financial properties were also the reason secular hospitals maintained extensive wine cellars. Again, this was true later in the century when the house of "Zähringer" founded the "Hospital of the poor," in the Zurich region.

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Diolinoir

A new variety, Diolinoir was developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud). When grown in favorable locations in Valais, it gives a fine, robust wine, rich in color and with good tannin content. It is a cross between Diolly and Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir

Genetic studies have revealed that Pinot Noir is probably one of the two ancestors (the other being the humble Gouais) of some of the most important vines cultivated in Europe today. It is certainly a particularly ancient variety, and originally from Burgundy. Pinot Noir, with its associated clones, is found all over Switzerland, but it is only in the eastern region that it dominates production. It is either produced as a varietal or blended with other grapes. These blends are known as Salvagnin in Vaud and Dôle in Valais. Depending on where it is grown, it can produce a wine that is either light and fruity, or rich and full-bodied.

Johannisberg

Second in white wines of Valais (after Fendant). The name Johannisberg is only used in Valais; the rest of French-speaking Switzerland call it Gros Rhin. The grape used to make Johannisberg is the Grüner Sylvaner. The origin of the grape is not clear. On the one hand it strongly resembles the Roman Apianisien (loved by bees) grape, as described by Pliny the Elder in his “Historia naturalis”, on the other hand, its more likely birthplace is in Romanian Transylvania.

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

Discover Switzerland’s odd grapes, small producers, and eclectic tastes