Swiss Wine Regions

Ticino Wine Region: Switzerland’s Home of Merlot

bellinzona ticino vinyard

Welcome to Ticino, Switzerland’s sunny, Italian-speaking home of Merlot. Although the climate in Ticino ultimately proved to be ideal for Merlot, it wasn’t until 1906 that this venerable grape found its way there from Bordeaux.

With well-sited vineyards and the highest density of quality wine makers in Switzerland, Ticino wines have no problem holding their own on an international level. The Merlot del Ticino can vary from relatively light to as full-bodied as a traditional Bordeaux.

Originally part of the Duchy of Milan and fully part of Italy for a while, Ticino wasn’t incorporated into the Swiss Confederation until the 15th Century. Although under Swiss sovereignty, not much effort was made to integrate Ticino into the Swiss Confederation before 1803. Today Ticino’s Italian culture still remains firmly in hand.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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.

Himbertscha

Himbertscha is one of the rare indigenous white varieties from Haut-Valais, mostly at home in the vineyards of Visperterminen (Upper Valais). The name Himbertscha is said to come from a raspberry (himbeer in German) taste of the wine himbeerartigen. Jose-Marie Chanton who specializes in cultivating the old vines from Wallis makes this wine available under the quality label “Brantignon”. He also cultivates the Himbertscharebe, another “rediscovered” old Walliser white wine.

Chardonnay

A vigorous and adaptable vine from Burgundy, Chardonnay grows pretty much everywhere that wine is made. Although production is not so high in Switzerland, award-winning wines have come out of Geneva, Valais and Neuchâtel.

New loves and old wine, give a man these and he never refines.

Francis Beeding

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