Swiss Wine Regions

2008: a Fine Year for Swiss Wine

Swiss Wine Grape Harvest 2008, Zurich, by A. Haenni"So how good was the 2008 Swiss wine harvest?"

Well, thank you for asking, because it was a close one. The hail storms in some areas of Switzerland didn't cause too much damage, but the bad weather in the early fall had the Swiss wine growers skittish. Fortunately Bacchus proved accommodating. A pleasant Indian summer followed with gentle breezes and sunny days. In the end the Swiss wine growers were more than satisfied.

Warm sunny days and cool evenings are ideal for wine grapes. The grapes are able to mature, develop excellent sugar levels, and be harvested at the best time of the year. Although, "not the best we've seen these past ten years," says Thierry Walz, a member of the Swiss Wine Exporters' Association, but comparable to 2006, one of the best recent vintages. The Chasselas and Pinot Noir grapes particularly benefited.

Yields were 3.5% higher as well, according to the Swiss Department of Agriculture, up roughly 35, 000 hectoliters to 1, 075,561 hectoliters .

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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.

Arvine

Another delivery from Rome, there are actually three Arvine grape varieties, only two used for wine production: Grand Arvine, with the larger berries, and Petit Arvine, with the, you guessed it, smaller berries. The unloved Arvine brune has faded from the scene. Grand Arvine gets criticized for displaying little character, whereas the Petit Arvine tends to have a fuller bouquet and lower acidity. In blind tasting, Petit Arvine generally kicks ass against its plumper brother. Arvine is also an excellent grape for late harvest wine, which can be cellared.

Müller-Thurgau

Developed in Germany by Prof. Müller (from Thurgau), this early maturing white grape variety is one of the principal white grapes cultivated in German-speaking Switzerland. Produces elegant, aromatic wines when grown in cool temperate climates. In warmer locations these qualities tend to be masked by a certain heaviness and lack of acidity.

In vino veritas.

Pliny the Elder

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