Today, wine is cultivated in at least 22 of a total of 26 Swiss cantons. Just a few years ago, winegrowing in these cantons, with their diminutive vineyards, was considered a folkloristic attraction; yet today, even these cantons produce wines of astonishing quality.
It was the Romans who laid the foundations for modern-day viticulture in Switzerland. Even 300 years ago, Switzerland had much more vineyard coverage than it does today; back then, wine was a staple, which was considerably more pure than the often contaminated water. Following the phylloxera invasion in the 19th century, wine imports increased, causing a decline in local viticulture. Nowadays, however, even cantons such as Lucerne, Schwyz and Appenzell have restored pride in their locally-produced wines. In Appenzell, wine was mentioned as early as 1301 in the context of the requirement to pay tithes.As a winegrowing canton, Ticino is split into two sub-regions: Sopraceneri lies to the north of the Monte Ceneri pass and encompasses the districts of Bellinzona, Blenio, Leventina, Locarno, Rivera and Maggiatal. Most notably in the vineyards of Leventina and Valle Blenio, which are close to the Alps, an elegantly fruity, lighter type of Merlot is grown. Sottocenerci comprises the districts of Lugano and Mendrisio. Here, very robust and full-bodied Merlots are produced. The soils in Sopraceneri are predominantly granite and sand, while in the south of Ticino we find heavier, chalky soils with varying proportions of clay.
Almost everywhere in Switzerland, there are sheltered hillsides in river valleys or by lakes that are suited to winegrowing. As a rule, the vines take root in heavier loam soils with varying proportions of chalk, sand, or scree.
All Swiss vineyards are located much further south than, say, Alsace or Champagne. Switzerland boasts a wealth of hillside locations that are less than 600 metres above sea level, making them suitable for viticulture. The climate-regulating influence of the lakes and rivers, as well as the foehn wind, are also conducive to winegrowing.
Easy-drinking, fresh and fruity wines dominate, with moderate alcohol content and lively acidity.
Pinot noir, Müller-Thurgau (Riesling x Silvaner), Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Regent, Garanoir and others.
Around 100 hectares in all, including areas in the cantons of Schwyz (36 hectares) and Lucerne (28 hectares), in the Bern-Lake Thun region (18 hectares), and in the cantons of Jura (7 hectares), Appenzell (5 hectares), Solothurn (5 hectares) etc.