Swiss wine harvest for 2020 declared ‘small but exquisite’

Harvesting grapes in canton Neuchâtel in September 2020 Keystone / Theophile Bloudanis

A cold snap during the main flowering period and a hot summer with little rain prevented a large grape harvest in Switzerland last year. However, the rich aromas and high sugar content promise a top vintage.

This content was published on March 29, 2021 - 15:01

A total of 84 million litres was harvested, the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) saidExternal link on Monday. This is 13% below the ten-year average and is the second-smallest crop in the past ten years (behind 2017).

The spring was climatically ideal for viticulture, giving a strong boost to the development of the vines, the office said. However, the main phase of flowering was cold and wet. Depending on the location and variety, this meant that fewer berries remained on the vines to grow further.

The summer temperatures, which set in early, then ensured that the grapes could ripen quickly. The hot and dry summer was then very favourable for grape quality, FOAG said. However, these conditions resulted in smaller grapes with less juice than in previous years. The quantity is therefore lower but of “excellent” quality, it said.

Significant losses in yield were seen in eastern Switzerland in particular, above all in canton Graubünden (minus 23.3%). Canton Valais in southwest Switzerland was also badly affected, reporting a yield 17.1% below the ten-year average.

Covid effect

The Covid-19 crisis also had an influence on the harvest. The cantons, taking into account the decrease of wine sales due to the closed restaurants and the large events that did not take place, reduced the number of kilogrammes of grapes permitted per square metre.

On March 22 umbrella organisation Trade Switzerland said wine traders in gastronomy and in specialised trade had lost up to 45% of their turnover in 2020. Wine sales had increased only in the retail trade.

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