Everything You Need To Know About Swiss Wines

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During the Corona crises, I have been trying to think of new ways to attract customers. One of the ideas I have had is to add a wine experience to the Cheese and Chocolate Tour. Therefore, I have been learning about Swiss Wine, a very interesting subject and certainly an experience that guests will enjoy.

So the question is why is Swiss wine an enigma and seemingly not very popular outside of Switzerland? Many people do not even know that wine is produced here. However, I can confirm that many good quality wines are produced here in several regions and over the past 20 years Swiss winemaking has come a long way with a focus on quality as new grapes were introduced and older varieties resurrected. Swiss winemakers took off to the USA, Australia and New Zealand to learn winemaking techniques and bring their skills back to Switzerland to cater for a growing market of wine drinkers both here and from abroad.

So today there are approximately 15,000 hectares of vineyards in Switzerland across several Kantons in Switzerland. 58% is red wine and 42% white with Pinot Noir and Chaesselas the 2 most common varieties.

Switzerland’s Six Wine Regions

  • Valais (33% of total wine volume produced) In the heart of the Alps, with vineyards extending over 100km along the Rhône river.
  • Vaud (25%) Predominantly along the shores of Lake Geneva, with some vineyards at the southwestern end of Lake Neuchâtel.
  • German-speaking region (19%) Widely scattered across 17 German-speaking cantons from Basel and Aargau in the northwest via Zurich, Schaafhausen and Thurgau, to St Gallen and Graubünden in the east.
  • Geneva (10%) In the foothills of the sub-Alpine Jura mountains and both banks of the Rhône as it leaves the western end of Lake Geneva.
  • Ticino (7%) On the southern side of the Alps close to the Italian border, with abundant sunshine tempered by lake-effect rain from its proximity to Lakes Lugano and Maggiore.
  • Three Lakes (5%) Mostly on the slopes of the Jura along the northern banks of Lake Neuchâtel, with the balance on the equivalent shores of nearby Lakes Biel/Bienne and Murten/Morat.

I have picked out a couple of regions and winemakers that Typically Swiss Tours has met and will be taking customers to should they wish to visit a Swiss Vineyard to possibly complement a visit to a chocolate factory and/or a cheese dairy.

I have chosen the Kaiserspan vineyards at Hitzkirch, 25 mins outside of Luzern. Here, Andreas and Edith carefully turn Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling Silvaner into delicious red, white and rosé wines. Not far away on the banks of Lake Luzern with superb views Tony Ottiger produces the same varieties and Sauvignon Blanc and Rosenau as well. I envisage a day up Mt Pilatus, followed by a stroll round Luzern followed by a mid to late afternoon vineyard visit to be a lovely day.

Likewise, in the Lavaux region, Typically Swiss Tours has teamed up with La Crausaz vineyard which is situated on the south facing hills above Lake Leman, near Montreux. This perfectly located vineyard produces Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir amongst many selections. A trip here would complement a day in Montreux or even better round of a perfect culinary trip to Cailler chocolate and Gruyere cheese, located 30 mins away.

All three vineyards offer an introduction as to how the wines are produced, a small tour around the vineyard and a sampling of some selected wines and perhaps some lunch if ordered in advance. Naturally, there will be an opportunity to purchase a couple of bottles to sample later or take back as souvenirs. I have personally visited all 3 places and can confirm that this experience is not one to be missed. The views across the vineyards with lakes and mountains provide a perfect backdrop for a wonderful Swiss wine tasting experience. And why do this …….

Well, Swiss wines are becoming more popular year on year. The Swiss say themselves they cannot produce enough for their home market, never mind the foreign one and consequently only 1.5% of production is exported. A trip to a vineyard will certainly open up your eyes to the quality and increasing appeal of Swiss Wines.

One thing is for certain, a trip to a Swiss Vineyard will not disappoint and certainly add value to any culinary trip here in Switzerland.

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