Switzerland evokes images of mountain climbers, yodelers, fondue and chocolate and cheese. It does not evoke wine. But surprisingly, Switzerland has a thriving wine community, though exports to other countries including the U.S. are miniscule, and amount to less than 2 percent of the total wine production. In fact, Switzerland has approximately 37,000 acres of grapes planted. By contrast, the unknown AVA of West Elks in Colorado has 48,000 acres of vines. The Valais region, Switzerland’s largest wine grape area, comprising of the valley which leads towards the Alps, are laden with steep terraced mountainside vineyards in a stunning display of the ability to plant grapes in seemingly impossible locations.
“It’s difficult to export wine because we drink a lot” is the response I got when asking why Swiss wine does not exist on the international market. Switzerland, a tiny independent country in the heart of Europe with a population of 7.5 million, is divided further by languages; French, Italian, German, and Romanche.