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

Auxerrois blanc

A clone of the prolific Pinot Noir, Auxerrois blanc is a close cousin of Pinot blanc. It comes from the county of Auxerrois, and is best known from Alsace.

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

Pinot Gris

Called Malvoisie in Valais, this grape has nothing to do with any of the Malvoisie varieties of the Muscat family and is another of the mutations of Pinot Noir. A vine grown in many of the Swiss areas, in Valais, Pinot Gris produces a fine sweet late harvest wine with honey overtones.

Water for oxen, wine for kings.

Spanish Proverb

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