In Wine We Trust: The Valentina Passalacqua Saga

The explosive Valentina Passalacqua saga is a cautionary tale for anyone who would exploit a human being for business advantage. It’s also a deep dive into business accountability, transparency and crisis communication. It may also mark the moment when the wine world begins to worry less about sulfite additions and native yeasts and more about […]

Müller-Thurgau: Then and Now

I would argue that the much-maligned cross of Riesling x Silvaner, better known as Müller-Thurgau, is a dual national. There’s no doubt the variety was born in Germany, but what’s not so well known is that it came of age in Switzerland. It was created by a Swiss scientist, Hermann Müller, at Geisenheim in the […]

The Wine Rivers of Switzerland: The Rhine

If the Alps are “The Water Tower of Europe”, as they’re sometimes known, then the Witenwasserenstock, a mountain peak in central Switzerland, is the spigot. Its pointy summit (header photo) is one of the few triple watersheds in Europe and a feeder for the alpine catchments of the Rhine, Rhône and Po basins. There’s more. […]

The Dry Stone Walls of Valais

I want to talk about walls. Not the politically-charged border walls that divide nations but the visionary walls that make possible seemingly impossible human tasks. The kinds of walls that allow a vigneron to repurpose a steep granite mountainside into a world-class vineyard. I can think of several excellent examples all over Switzerland — some of them […]

Are the Swiss Ready for the Pét-Nat Invasion?

Of all the recent wine trends to arrive in Switzerland, the pét-nat vogue may be the first to fizzle out. It’s not because the Swiss don’t like bubbles — they do, Switzerland is an important market for Champagne — but fads and frivolities are never an easy sell here. To the high-roller banker-types — loyal […]

AOC Vully: Traminer Front and Center

In June 2019 a team of international researchers published Palaeogenomic Insights into the Origins of French Grapevine Diversity, a study that used DNA testing to identify a medieval grape seed as that of the savagnin variety. This startling discovery placed savagnin among the oldest vinifera varieties known to exist with more than 900 years of continuous propagation. Earlier, […]

Swiss Grapes: Sauvignon Soyhières

There’s a slight claustrophobic ends-of-the-earth vibe to the Jurassian village of Soyhières (Pop. 433). It has the plain vanilla look of 1950’s Swiss functionality with a lingering undercurrent of separatism and a patois (Vâdais) all its own. The village itself offers none of the postcard images one expects from rural Switzerland but the seasonal pastures and […]

Provins Valais: A Cooperative No More

Provins Valais, the largest winery in Switzerland and producer of nearly ten percent of all Swiss wine, is a cooperative no more. After years of financial turmoil — culminating in a messy crop payment fiasco — the ninety-year-old enterprise was recast as a société anonyme (“S.A.”) by an overwhelming vote of its members. The suitor, Fenaco, a highly […]