Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Viticulture in Eastern Switzerland: Where from and where to?

This review follows the historic development of viticulture in Eastern Switzerland. It is not clear, whether wine making in this area dates back to the Romans. Written proof concerning local vineyards is available from the the 9th century on mainly from monasteries, which were instrumental in propagating viticulture. Later vineyard area grew rather uncontrollably and expanded into climatic regions and heights which were definitely not suited for grape-growing, even if allowance is made for a warm climatic spell in the Middle Ages. Geographic extension of grapevines in the eastern part was maximal at 1875. Changes, which include climatic deterioration, occurrence of new grape pests and diseases (phylloxera, downy and powdery mildew), poor wine quality and import, due to improved railroad connections, induced all but a total collaps of local viticulture. The actual vine growing area of the German speaking part of Switzerland now amounts to about 2500 ha. Factors responsible for this viticultural crash are evaluated with respect to their bearing on modern Swiss viticulture.

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