Swiss Wine Regions

Geneva

Mais Oui, Geneva

First joining the Swiss confederation in 1815, the canton of Geneva lies in the Rhône valley between Jura and the Alps. Almost surrounded by France, and one of the smallest cantons, it is one of Switzerland's most important wine regions. Geneva is Switzerland's 3rd largest Swiss wine region and accounts for about 10% of national production. Wine production has gone on uninterrupted here on Lake Geneva and around the city for almost 2,000 years.

Often going under the alias "Perlan", the Chasselas grape is the principal white wine grape of Geneva and it accounts for over half of the white wine production. However Geneva does well internationally with the more well known wine grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Riesling Silvaner (Müller Thurgau), Sauvignon blanc, Gewürztraminer, Scheurebe and Aligoté.

As for the red wine grapes in the Geneva wine region, Gamay does particularly well in this area resulting in a dense, fruity wine. In Geneva you will also find Cabernet sauvignon, Gamaret, Garanoir, Kerner, Merlot, Pinot noir and Syrah. It's worth mentioning that a recent flurry of top international awards for Swiss Syrah wines have focused attention on Switzerland.

Tags:

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Freisamer

The Freisamer plays more of a role in Graubünden but has a small presence in a few other cantons. It’s a hybrid of Silvaner x Pinot gris, developed in Freiburg in the Breisgau region. A temperamental grape that puts great demands on the type of soil and location—do I hear you say “terroir”?—it’s been trying to make a name for itself since the sixties but hasn’t really taken off.

Sémillon

Hard to believe that Sémillon’s main claim to fame is its propensity to rot, but because of its soft skin Sémillon is prone to Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. “noble rot”). The “rot” concentrates the acid and sugar in the grape, and the resulting wine can be complex, rich, sweet, and aromatic. In short: pretty damn nice. The best known of this sweet style wine is Sauternes, coming from the Sauternais region of the Graves, near Bordeaux in France.

Sémillon can also make an elegant dry white wine, but since it can be short on acidity, it is often vinified with Sauvignon blanc.

Garanoir

A new variety (Gamay x Reichensteiner), developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud), Garanoir ripens early. Can give interesting blends with Gamay, Gamaret or sometimes Pinot Noir.

Wine is sunlight, held together by water!

Galileo Gallilei

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