If France is the Mecca of wine, then Switzerland is wine's El Dorado. Imagine vineyards scaling up mountains into the clouds towering over cities built thousands of years ago by a civilization long gone. Lush green valleys with raging teal rivers winding down snow-capped mountains. Bustling, diverse cities built on alpine lakes so clear you can see the fish swimming at the bottom 20 feet deep. Describing Switzerland is like reading out of a fantasy novel. Describing Swiss wine is akin to describing a paradise for wine lovers.
Ever heard of Swiss Wine before?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Most people have no idea that Swiss wine even exists, let alone is a prominent wine producer.
Switzerland is dubbed “The Best-Kept Secret in Wine” for good reason. This small country is the hotbed of ingenuity, and some of the finest grape varietals are coming out of Switzerland like the incredible Gamaret and Garanoir reds.
Is Switzerland the best Kept-secret in wine?
Why Swiss wine is so hard to find.
If Swiss wine is so great why is it so hard to find? I can find Louis Roederer, Cristal and vintage Chateau Beychevelle wines here in the U.S. surely I should be able to find Swiss wine. Right? Good question! The devil is in the details, the best way to answer that is by looking at why Swiss wine is rarely found outside of Switzerland. By knowing the challenges of exporting Swiss wine you can see why it has rarely traveled beyond the Alps.
- Switzerland is landlocked; it does not border any coast and, therefore, did not explode in the global wine trade like France, Italy, and California did in the mid to late 1800s. Exporting Swiss wine has to go through other countries, adding a layer of complexity on top of the traditional "drop the wine off at the port and go."
- Switzerland is CRAZY small. With only 15,000 hectares of vineyards and no room for expansion, the production will never have numerous mass-produced wines like the rest of the world. Compare that to Napa Valley alone, which has roughly 70,000 hectares of vineyards and you start to see why small batch single varietals are the standard in Switzerland.
- Most of Switzerland's vineyards are grown, produced, and bottled on the estate. There are only a few mass produced wineries in the country. The market tends to favor smaller hand crafted single-origin producers over mass produced wines. This is especially challenging if you plan to export large volumes of wine out of the country.
- Switzerland pays REALLY good compared to their neighbors! They use migrational workers from throughout Europe during harvest season and provide high wages, housing, and benefits for temporary staff. This inevitably trickles down to the cost per bottle.
- Switzerland has strict agricultural practices. They have rigid agricultural laws to ensure a high standard across Switzerland. This leads to a minor increase in cost on a production level not typically found in other EU wine-producing countries with lower quality standards.
To recap, Swiss wine is more expensive and harder to source than wine from its neighboring countries of France and Italy. From paying higher salaries for employees to stricter but more sustainable farming practices and smaller family-operated wineries, these are a few hurdles that make importers and wine investors shy of sourcing Swiss wine.
However, where the traditional wine industry sees hurdles and low profits, we see a land of gold and wonder!
Who Has Swiss Wines, and where can I get them?
Liane Boswell Selections: Liane Boswell Selections is a woman-owned and operated import business based in Seattle that started importing wine from France, Spain, Italy, and now the beautiful Valais region of Switzerland.
Convivium Wines: Dan Hess was born in Spain, then raised in his dad’s homeland of Switzerland. In 2020, Convivium wines began importing multiple producers from France and Switzerland.
If you want to experience Swiss wine, here are a few recommendations we suggest you try to get your feet wet.
|The Staple white wine of Switzerland||Unique single varietal white wine derived from a cross of Riesling and a wild Bukettrebe Grape|
|Get it Here||Get it Here|
|Pinot Noir||Gamaret ~ Garanoir|
|A traditional Swiss pinot||Blend of the two Signature red wines of Switzerland|
|Get it Here||Get it Here|