Swiss specialities: chocolate, cheese and ... wine? | 6/17/2018 | Staff
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When foreigners think of Swiss specialities that might excite their taste buds, world-renowned chocolate and cheese likely come to mind.

Swiss wine? Not so much.

Reputation - Switzerland - Winemakers - Boost - Export

But the global reputation of Switzerland's winemakers may be set for a boost, backed by a new export promotion strategy that aims to see Swiss labels on menus at the world's top restaurants.

In some ways, the Swiss Winegrowers' Festival (Fete des Vignerons), which opened Thursday, mirrors the country's appellations: both could be considered extraordinary, yet both are hardly known outside Switzerland.

Festival - Country - Lavaux - Region - UNESCO

The festival, hosted in the country's winemaking Lavaux region, is recognised on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.

First held in 1797, the festival has taken place roughly every quarter century since.

Event - Night - August - Performance - Year

The main event, expected to draw 20,000 per night through August 11, is a theatrical performance dramatising a year in the life of a vineyard, from pruning to harvest.

Ahead of this year's edition, industry experts agreed that the time had come for Swiss wine to spread its vines.

Damien - Leclerc - Sales - Director - Lavinia

Damien Leclerc, sales director at Lavinia, a prominent wine shop in central Geneva, agreed that Swiss labels were "little known to the general (international) public."

But the French national told AFP that "insiders (and) professionals" appreciate that, despite the small output, Switzerland produces unique grapes and wines of extremely high quality.

Grape - Varieties - Leclerc - Examples - Completer

"We have excellent grape varieties that really only exist here," Leclerc said, citing, among other examples, the Completer, a grape from the eastern canton of Graubuenden used to produce rich, full-bodied white wines.

Leclerc, also a sommelier, argued that for Swiss wine to thrive abroad it needed to emphasise "exclusivity", especially because it cannot compete with the production scale of its neighbouring wine behemoths, France and Italy.

Area - Switzerland - Production - Hectares - Acres

In 2018, the total area in Switzerland devoted to wine production amounted to less than 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres), compared to nearly 800,000 hectares in France.

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