Swiss Wine Regions

Swiss Wine

Observations about Swiss wine and grapes, and the history of wine-making in Switzerland

The Föhn

Schiltorn, SwitzerlandA Föhn is a weather phenomenon that influences the climate throughout Europe and in Switzerland makes it possible to grow grape varieties in regions that would otherwise be inhospitable. Read more »

Grand Prix du Vin Suisse, 2008

No state support, no regional pre-selections, and no quotas, the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse competition is open to all Swiss wine producers, and reflects the eclectic range of Swiss wines. Read more »

Bern, It's Elementary

Swiss Alps, cows, wine bottle and large clock face in Bern, SwitzerlandWith the exception of the small cooperatives around Spiez, when you speak of the Bern wine region, you are speaking of the area around Lake Biel. Here on the shores of the lake, monasteries and nobles have been making wine since the Middle Ages. With the reformation in the 16th century, ownership ended up in the hands of the state, or the merchants from Bern and Biel. Since then ownership has shifted to the citizens living around the lake. 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 »

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Räuschling

The Räuschling grape is a very old and probably indigenous Swiss white wine grape. Once fairly common in Switzerland and Alsace, Räuschling got pushed aside by the more useful Müller-Thurgau grape, and today Räuschling is a minor grape. Still found in Alsace, France, and occasionally used in the “Vin d’Alsace”, it still retains quite some respect in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, most notably in the canton of Zurich, where is is considered a “Zuri-grape”.

It is also planted in Valais.

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

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.

Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man.

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