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Vineyards have been cultivated in Switzerland since the Roman era.

Around 55 per cent of Switzerland’s production is white wine, and 45 per cent is red wine.

Only one per cent of the total wine produced in Switzerland is exported, amounting to 700,000 litres a year.

Switzerland’s most important wine growing regions in terms of volume are canton Valais, Vaud, Geneva and Ticino.

Switzerland produces roughly four percent of Europe’s wine, and just under one percent of the world’s wine.

Confusingly, the Swiss often use their own names for internationally-known grape varieties, such as Fendant (for Chasselas), Johannisberg (for Sylvaner) or Blauburgunder, Spätburgunder and Clevner (three names for Pinot Noir).

The most popular Swiss wine for export is the Fendant white wine, produced predominantly in canton Valais. The Müller-Thurgau and Sylvaner are also important varieties.

Atlantic voyage

Europe’s highest vineyard lies between an altitude of 650m and 1,200m in Visp, canton Valais. It produces a white wine made from the rare, spicy-flavoured Heida grape.

Oak barrels were first used to transport wine over the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. After the six-month sea journey, the wine was found to taste far better, and ageing in oak barrels was incorporated into the wine making process.

Archaeologists excavating the sites on the shores of Lakes Geneva, Neuchâtel and Zurich have found grape seeds dating as far back as 10,000 BC. The quantities of grape pips suggest that the early inhabitants of today’s Switzerland already cultivated vines.

swissinfo, Vanessa Mock and Mark Ledsom

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR