Swiss Wine Regions

Swiss Wine

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

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 »

No, it’s not just Chardonnay

Wine bottles and Swiss Alps photo montageThe Swiss are eclectic, life is comfortable in Switzerland, and the Swiss have been quietly gathering the best of what's around them: you see it in the food, fashion, and lifestyle, and the collection area isn't limited to the immediate neighbors of Austria, Germany, Italy and France. The Swiss are a far traveling nation.

This Swiss eclectic nature extends to their taste in wine, in which they indulge extensively; consistently in the upper percentile of per capita wine consumption. So extensively in fact, that very little Swiss wine gets exported. Surprising when you consider that many Swiss aren't even aware that wine is produced in Switzerland at all. Read more »

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. 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

Humagne Blanche

Only planted in Valais today, Humagne blanche* is another of the very old Swiss grapes, probably brought in by the Romans. Having a high iron content, and supposedly health-giving properties, this wine was decreed a “health wine” (Krankenwein) for centuries. The old written documents in which this wine is referred to as vinum hum-anum date from the 12th and 14th Centuries. It’s also called Kinderbettenwein or baby crib wine. I’ll bet those kids didn’t have much to cry about.

*no relation to the Humagne Rouge

Humagne Rouge

An alpine red variety that is a specialty in Valais, this vine is no relation to the similarly named Humagne Blanche. Humagne Rouge is a hardy, late ripening grape whose planted surface has increased largely during the last 20 years. It produces a fine wine, low in tannin with a slightly wild character that is ideal with game dishes.

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.

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