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 […]

A New Pest in the Vineyard — What to Watch For

I’m one of those wine lovers who prefers a face-to-face at the local bottle shop to a blind purchase online. My other preference is to order directly from a few trusted Swiss producers. This allows me to avoid the middleman, gives me time to talk things over with the winemaker, and puts me first in […]

Opinion: The Other Side of Calamity

Back in January the threat of 100% tariffs on European wine sent waves of panic through the trade. The collapse of an important segment of the industry was a real possibility with small importers and distributors among the most likely casualties. Collateral businesses were at risk, too; bars, restaurants, retailers and the supply chain cohort […]

Swiss Grapes — The Twins: Gamaret & Garanoir

Whenever I think of Gamaret, I invariably think of its less assertive twin, Garanoir. And whenever my mind thinks in pairs like that, it invariably settles on the Silva sisters, Sheila and Sonja. The dreaded sisters were among my most formidable childhood antagonists and the first set of twins to enter my consciousness as classmates […]