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

Syrah

A classic red grape variety transplanted from the Côtes-du-Rhône area, Syrah is still somewhat of a rarity here and is grown mainly in Valais and on well-exposed slopes. It produces a spicy, deeply colored, elegant tannic wine that ages well.

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.

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.

Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep well and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.

Medieval German Saying

Swiss Alps, cows, wine bottle and large clock face in Bern, Switzerland

Fine Swiss Wine

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