Notable for its silky smooth red wines, the German speaking region accounts for nearly one fifth of the nation’s vine and is perhaps best considered as three geographical sub-zones:- Basel and Aargau in the west of the country, the central belt comprising - amongst others - the cantons of Schaffhausen, Thurgau and Zürich, and the renowned eastern provinces of Graubünden and St. Gallen. There is also a smattering of small parcels along the banks of Lake Thun in the Bernese Oberland, around Oberhofen and the beautiful fortified town of Spiez.
Mirroring the national picture, red varieties dominate production across this region with nearly 75% of the area under vine given over to these grapes. Pinot Noir - known locally as Blauburgunder, has plantings of more than one-thousand hectares whilst much smaller areas of Regent and Cabernet Jura can be found around the municipality of Zürich and in the western cantons.
Covering one quarter of the vineyard area and accounting for around a third of production, white grape varieties across the German Speaking region are markedly different from those found in other areas. Whilst the regions of Lac Léman (Vaud and Geneva) are dominated by the Chasselas grape and the Valais is famed for its cultivation of rare indigenous varieties, in the sub-zones of German Speaking Switzerland Müller-Thurgau (usually referred to as Riesling-Sylvaner) reigns supreme. Other white grapes represented here include (in order of their respective areas under vine) - Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and the old German variety, Raüschling.
Unsurprisingly, given the geographical sprawl of the region, the growing conditions of each sub-zone (and each appellation within the sub-zones) is nothing if not diverse. Geology, climate and producer choice are broad, and with a topography that runs from low lying lakes to high alpine peaks - with a bit of everything in-between - the wines of the region range significantly in style and character.
Encompassing so much of this wonderfully enchanting country - from cosmopolitan Zürich to culture-soaked Basel; from the tranquil lakesides of Lucerne to the dramatic mountain tops of Graubünden; from urban adventure to idyllic countryside retreat, the scenic vineyards of Switzerland’s German Speaking region offer plenty for both the casual consumer and the connoisseur.
Aargau AOC is a Swiss wine appellation in the north-west of the country. With three-hundred-and-eighty hectares under vine, the canton of Aargau is the fourth largest wine producing area within the German Speaking region, producing principally red wines from the Pinot Noir grape.
Graubünden AOC is a Swiss wine appellation covering the geographical region from which it takes its name. With a landscape dominated by the Pinot Noir grape, the appellation is responsible for some of Switzerland’s most acclaimed wines from this variety.
St. Gallen AOC is a Swiss wine appellation that covers the canton from which it takes its name. Situated in the north-east of the country between Lake Constance and the Appenzell Alps, the vineyards of St. Gallen comprise mostly of the Pinot Noir and Müller-Thurgau varieties.
A rural canton, perhaps better known for its apples than its grapes, Thurgau - in north-eastern Switzerland produces wines principally from the Pinot Noir and Müller-Thurgau varieties. The canton’s best wines are awarded the label of Thurgau AOC as confirmation of their quality.
Switzerland’s largest city gives its name to Zürich AOC - considered amongst the most important wine appellations in the German Speaking region. Reflecting the national and regional picture, Zürich’s grape yield is dominated by red varieties with plantings of Pinot Noir representing just over half of the total area under vine.