Switzerland’s most exciting wines are finally coming to the u.S.

Wednesday 25 Jan 2023 Article

A new wave of U.S. importers is turning its attention to the tiny Alpine nation—and the results are proving well worth the wait.

Despite sharing borders with such viticultural heavyweights as France, Italy, Germany, and Austria, and boasting an equally storied wine culture, Switzerland’s reputation as a purveyor of cheese, chocolate, and complex financial instruments has always eclipsed its standing as a producer of fine wine.      

A tiny Alpine nation whose wine industry is composed of thousands of small, independent growers who earn their livelihoods tending the perilously steep, low-yielding slopes of its six unique growing regions, Switzerland ekes out barely over one million hectoliters of wine per year. Compared to Italy’s 50 million hectoliters, or even Germany’s eight million, that amounts to a minuscule quantity—less than half the amount necessary to satisfy domestic demand. As a result, the Swiss maintain a time-honored tradition of consuming the bulk of their wine within their own borders, with fewer than two percent of the country’s output earmarked for export. 

It should therefore come as no surprise that Swiss wine has never commanded more than a marginal presence in the U.S. market. According to Neal Rosenthal, the founder of Rosenthal Wine Merchant, one of the first U.S. importers to introduce estate-grown, small-production Swiss wines to American audiences, several related factors have conspired to perpetuate this chronic lack of visibility—not least of all, the wines’ scale of production, unfamiliarity, and price. 

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Switzerland. Naturally.