Scurrying around the Bahnhofstrasse in their blue suits, the Gnomes of Zurich, seem too preoccupied to realize that just outside of town is the largest and most important Swiss wine region in German-speaking Switzerland.
Up until the 1960s, the wine industry around Zurich wasn't impressive. Then science and technology lead to improvements in quality and increased productivity. The labor-intensive Stickelbau method for supporting the vine gave way to the more practical Drahtbau, and viticulture became a viable business. Today more than half the 171 municipalities of Zurich produce wine grapes. The wine-producing areas around Zurich are divided into four zones: Lake Zurich, Limmattal, Unterland, and Weinland.
Few grapevines are as abused by the cold, wind, hail, and fog as the wine grapes in the hills of Zurich. Given the conditions, the wine grapes that do well here are of the fast-ripening variety; with Riesling x Sylvaner (Müller-Thurgau) and the Blaubergunder (Pinot Noir), are the most planted wine grapes, for white wine and red wine, respectively. Even so, success would be limited if not for the temperature-regulating effects from Lake Zurich.
The result is a Swiss wine region that produces wines in a series of styles, from elegant white wines, tannic red wines capable of aging, to opulent Ice wines.