Switzerland is famous for thousands of reasons. People love the beauty of its natural landscapes, particularly its mountains. In this guide, we will take a closer look at the biggest and best Swiss Wine Regions.
Yes, you read that right. Despite a huge chunk of its land being covered by thousand-meter-high peaks, flowing rivers, and crystal clear lakes, Switzerland also has arable land suitable to produce wine. The country has different regions which are famous due to wine-making. Here are the seven best idyllic Swiss Wine Regions explained in detail.
Acreage in Hectares
|Valais Wine Region||4,800 hectares|
|Vaud Wine Region (Lavaux)||3,780 hectares|
|German Switzerland (Zürich, Schaffhausen, Bündner Herrschaft|
Aargau, Thurgau, St. Gallen, Basel, Central Switzerland)
|Geneva Wine Region||1,410 hectares|
|Ticino Wine Region||1,120 hectares|
|Three Lakes Region||980 hectares|
Valais Wine Region
Roughly 30 to 40% of all the wine vineyards in Switzerland are in Canton Valais. The estimate is around 5,070 hectares.
The Rhône Valley is a good home for wine-growing. In fact, the terraces across the top Rhône River extend over 100 kilometers. These are generally positioned at a height of 270 to 1,100 meters above sea level. Furthermore, the region boasts of 2,100 sunny hours per year as well as mild autumn with cold nights.
In 470 to 800 meters above sea level and accounting for 70% of the region’s produce, Pinot Noir and Gamay are grown. The remaining 30% are split among Chasselas, Sylvaner, Petite Arvine, Amigne, Ermitage, Humagne, Heida, Cornalin, and Lafnetscha.
Things To Do in Valais Wine Region
Some places to visit and things to do in the Valais wine region are the following:
- Sion: The old Roman settlement Redunum. It is now an important economic region in Canton Valais. Sion has many wine cellars: Charles Bonvin Fils, Robert Gilliard, and Provins Valais.
- Sierre: Considered one of the main wine-producing regions in Valais. Sierre is an old city, also the easternmost French-speaking part of Lower Valais. It prides itself on its abundance of sunshine.
- Château de Villa: On the northwest of Sierre is a centuries-old beautiful Château. In it is a wine cellar showcasing the region’s best wines. It also has a restaurant serving regional products with (of course) wine. The Château also houses the temporary exhibitions of the Valais Wine Museum (see below).
- Valais Wine Museum: The Valais Wine Museum has two locations. One in Salgesch and Sierre. There is a 6-kilometer educational vineyard trail between them. The permanent exhibitions are in Salgesch. While the temporary exhibitions are in Château de Villa, Sierre.
- Fully: There is an educational wine trail which begins at Fol’terres wine bar and shop. It passes through the vineyards, before ending in Fully. Fully, a municipality in the district of Martigny, is the home of the Petite Arvine grape.
- Chamoson: The wine trail in Chamoson begins with a visit to the Romanesque church Saint-Pierre-de-Clages. The highest point of the trail overlooks the valley and its vineyards. A guided tasting tour of the Johannisberg grape is also included.
With the Valais Wine Pass, you can proceed on a trip of discovery through the vineyards of Rhône Valley with the chance to taste ten unique glasses of wine.
Lavaux Wine Region
Lavaux, a wine region in Canton Vaud, is a place of inspiration. Lavaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its beautiful vineyards. Its terraces grow grapes in the mild, almost Mediterranean-like climate. It consists of 830 hectares of terraced vineyards which will produce white and red wines.
Lavaux is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful areas. Lavaux owes its glory to the decline of the Rhône glacier. As the glacier declined, the steep slopes where the vineyards now exist emerged.
In the 12th century, the bishops of Lausanne and Cistercian monks recognized it as a wine region. Together with laborers, they constructed miles of walls and terraces. These terraces are carefully preserved by today’s winegrowers. The sun, the reflection of rays from Lake Geneva, and the heat from the rock walls help provide warmth. This warmth helps produce excellent wines that this Swiss wine region is known for.
Commonly grown wines include Chasselas, Gamay, and Pinot Noir. Pinos Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gamaret, and Garanoir are also grown here
Why not explore Lavaux aboard a train? The Lavaux Express Train allows you to discover the vineyards in the comfort of a train. The train route departs from Lutry and Cully and take one hour to one hour 15 minutes for the whole trip.
Bündner Herrschaft Wine Region
Bündner Herrschaft (Signuradi in Romansch) is the northern part of Landquart in Canton Graubünden. Another important wine region in Switzerland, Bündner Herrschaft stretches from Fläsch to Malans. Its mild climate and calcareous soil make this region is suitable to grow wine.
Bündner Herrschaft is also a wine country that produces 80% Pinot Noir (Blauburgunder in German). The rest of the grapes are other modern and local specialties including Completer and Freisamer. The hot southerly wind on the northern slopes of the Alps called Föhn as well as the stable autumn weather in the wine region is perfect for the farming of high-quality grapes.
In the middle of Heidiland, from Fläsch to Malans, you can find 42 kinds of vines along the Rhine. More than 70 companies offer a wide selection of wines from this region.
Things To Do in Bündner Herrschaft Wine Region
Here are some things to do in the Bündner Herrschaft Wine Region:
- Wine trail from Maienfeld to Fläsch: The wine trail starts from the train station of Maienfeld, then leads to the Castle Schloss Brandis. Then it passes through the vineyards going to Fläsch. The route will lead to a walk along the Rhine River before going back to the starting point in Maienfeld.
- Huus vum Bündner Wii: The House of the Bünder Wine provides guided tours from May until October including wine-tasting.
- Maienfeld: This beautiful town is surrounded by vineyards, charming little houses, trees, and mountains. It is also worth visiting and known as the inspiration for Heidi. Visit the Stunning Location of Heidi in Maienfeld, Switzerland for more information.
- Wine Trails: The Wine Trail map contains more information about the wine region Bünder Herrschaft in Rhine Valley.
Thurgau Wine Region
Thurgau is known for apple orchards and strawberries. But this northeastern corner of Switzerland includes a background of viticulture dating back to the Romans. It has vineyards comprising 250 hectares.
Many of Thurgau’s vineyards are close to Lake Constance‘s beaches. In fact, it is through the help of the Lake Constance and the Rhine River that the wine region has a mild climate compared to the rest of the country. The wine region of Thurgau has vineyards spread in-between the castles in the hills and areas of the region.
The Thurgau wine growers adapted to changes in the wine industry and the entire world wine market generally, and emphasis shifted from quantity to quality. Its white wines are aromatic; its red wines are fruity.
In Thurgau, they also decide on the objective of preserving and promoting wine production around rural family farms. Today, there are approximately 240 independent Thurgau wine manufacturers, a mixture of distinct vintners, cooperatives, and distributors. Roughly 80 percent of Thurgau’s wine generation follows incorporated manufacturing guidelines.
Schaffhausen Wine Region
The wine-growing region of Schaffhausen is in top form today. Its winemakers and wine producers are better trained than ever before. They use integrated production guidelines.
They create fabulous white and red wines at a density not thought possible. The wines produced are fresh, tasty, and robust.
Wine culture is omnipresent in and around this beautiful village. Not only can you partake in wine tasting in one of the wine producers. You can also walk around and follow wine trails or visit the wine museum
At the end of the 16th century, the area beneath vines was around 1,000 hectares, twice as much as today. As a result of shipping on the Rhine, exports prospered.
Salt was hauled down the Rhine, up the Rhine over Lake Constance into Bregenz, Bavaria, and Tyrol. The transshipment point was Schaffhausen. Between 1910 and 1930, the area under vines shrank to 320 hectares. This was due to vine ailments, economic crises, and residential area growth.
At the start of the Nineties, things started changing. The boom set in completely. Individual smaller wineries paved the way with plants filled with character. The bigger businesses followed suit.
Hallau – The Heart of Pinot Noir
Three out of four vines create Pinot Noir grapes. Pinot Noir is a well-loved grape in Hallau – the heart of Pinot Noir in Schaffhausen. Another popular product from this region is the sparking noble grape Rimuss.
200 winegrowers cultivate in Hallau together with Pinot Noir also Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, among others. Hallau is one of the 20 villages included by the Federal Office for Culture and Switzerland Tourism in the inventory of sites worthy of protection. With 150 hectares, Hallau has the largest contiguous vineyard area in German-speaking Switzerland.
Things To Do In Schaffhausen Wine Region
Other activities in the Schaffhausen Wine Region include the following:
- Wine Museum: The Wine Museum in Hallau documents the history of wine-growing in the region
- Wine Panorama Trail: The wine trail passes through the vineyards of Klettgau Valley.
Ticino Wine Region
It sometimes surprises visitors that Switzerland produces wine in any way. Many are consumed in-country by the Swiss and lucky holidaymakers. In the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, Ticino, they produce good Merlot.
Merlot is appropriate for the people who are influenced by the Swiss-Italian foods of the mountainous region. It goes well with the local food. In fact, the typical dining experience in Ticino will be spent in a Grotto enjoying a plate of Polenta (a cornmeal dish) together with a glass of Merlot.
In the Mendrisiotto and Basso Ceresio region, there is a possibility to actively participate in the grape harvest. Various wine growers and wine producers can welcome visitors who want to try their hand in gathering ripe grapes from the vineyard. Afterward, they get to learn more about how wine is produced. There is also a simple meal given after the end of the activity, relaxing and enjoying the experience just shared. The best thing is that this activity is free!
Three Lakes Wine Region
The Three Lakes Wine Region is a beautiful region that lies around three phenomenal lakes – Biel, Murten, and Neuchâtel. It is both a German- and French-speaking region with modern cities and picturesque villages. This region is well-known for its wines, especially on the terraces of the left bank along Lake Biel and Neuchâtel, as well as in Mont Vully.
These are the wine regions on the three lakes:
Lake Biel Wine Region is just one of three appellations from the region of Bern, covering 220 hectares. The lake itself in Biel lies between two other lakes; the enormous Lake Neuchâtel to the southwest and the giant Lake Murten to the southeast. Come to the point that vines are generally found along the lake’s northern shores, on what’s known as the “left bank” of this Lake Biel.
On this north slope, beautiful wine villages come one after the other. Walking in this area will give you a good viewpoint of St. Peter’s Island in the middle of Lake Biel. The wines produced in the region are about 75% white (mostly Chasselas) and 25% Pinot Noir (Blauburgunder). The land cultivated produces light wines. In Ligerz, there is a Wine Museum. Wine festivals are celebrated in September and October yearly.
Neuchâtel is a wine region of western Switzerland, wedged between Lake Neuchâtel and the border with France. Pinot Noir is arguably the flagship variety here also constitutes around half of all plantings in the region. Some of the region’s vineyards, particularly those on the lake’s beaches, also fall within part of their Neuchatel northeast area.
Bonvillars is a small wine region at the very northern extremity of Vaud, Switzerland’s adjoining wine area. The critical vineyards are situated on south-facing slopes directly over Bonvillars village.
Under a mile away from the shoreline of Lake Neuchâtel, these vineyards enjoy a highly moderated climate, having elevated levels of light reflected from the lake’s surface. As in many Vaud sub-regions, Pinot Noir and Chasselas would be the critical grapes varieties developed in Bonvillars, together with a fair representation of both Gamaret and Garanoir.
The wine trail Route du Vignoble de Bonvillars from Grandson crosses the Bonvillars vineyard as well as other picturesque villages dotting Lake Neuchâtel. Chateau de Boudry, located in the district Boudry, is a museum dedicated to the vineyards and wine of the Pays de Neuchâtel region.
The wine region in Lake Murten can be found in the 152-hectare vineyard of Vully. In Mont Vully, 24 vintners grow Chasselas, Pinot Noir, Gamaret, Merlot, Pinos Gris, Chardonnay, Freisamer, and Traminer.
- mySwitzerland. Wecke deine Sinne. Schweizer Herbst 2019. Schweiz Tourismus, 2019.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.