Introduction

By Lisa Rowlands

Switzerland - a country of startling contrasts and consummate surprises. Tradition and progress, rural tranquility and alpine adventure, awe-inspiring natural beauty and uber-cool urban edge. Home to 8 million people, 4 official languages and more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than anywhere else on earth. A nation synonymous with affluence and precision. Renowned for its luxury watch brands and master chocolatiers, for its majestic mountain scenery and unwavering neutrality, for its humanitarianism and the resolute strength of its currency… But, for its wine?

It is true to say that Swiss wine remains something of an enigma even to those within the industry. The history books tell us that viticulture has been alive and well in this landlocked alpine paradise for centuries, but perhaps owing to the small volume of production, or simply because the Swiss have wanted to keep their crop for themselves, little has become known outside of the country about its cultivation, variety and uniqueness. Even now, only a tiny fraction of the annual yield is consumed beyond the national boundary.

And so one might be surprised to learn that more than 200 grape varieties are produced in an area of 15,000 hectares, across 20 of the country’s 26 cantons. Red varieties are favoured over white, both in terms of production and consumption (the Swiss are, perhaps surprisingly, amongst the world’s most prolific wine drinkers), with Pinot Noir and Chasselas the leading grapes of their type.

Regions of Switzerland

Geneva

Tucked away in the far south western corner of Switzerland, the region of Geneva (and the city from which it takes its name) exudes an air of quality in everything that it does.

Read more ▸ 1 sub-zone 1 appellation 11 producers 8 wines

German Switzerland

Known by the somewhat unimaginative name of German Speaking Switzerland, this wine region brings together the appellations of seventeen cantons spread across the length and breadth of the county but bound by their common tongue.

Read more ▸ 6 appellations 3 producers 9 wines

Three Lakes

As its name suggests, Switzerland’s Three Lakes region (Drei-Seen-Land in German), covers the vineyards that border the Lakes of Neuchâtel, Bienne and Morat in the west of the country. With a grape yield consisting largely of the Chasselas and Pinot Noir varieties, the region is perhaps best known for its curiously named rosé wine Œil-de-Perdrix.

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Ticino

Canton Ticino brings together the perfect marriage of Swiss efficiency and Italian charm. A region rich in colour, culture and cuisine, La Dolce Vita is alive and well in southern Switzerland.

Read more ▸ 1 appellation 2 producers 2 wines