Swiss consumers are drinking less wine

The amount of wine consumed by Swiss residents in 2016 was down on the previous year, partly due to lifestyle choices and partly due to poor stocks of homegrown wine in the past few years, according to an official report.

Swiss consumers are drinking less wine
Photo: minervastock/Depositphotos
In 2016 Swiss residents drank 235 million litres of wine in total, or 40 bottles per person, said the federal agriculture office (BLW) on Tuesday.
That’s 10 million litres or 3.8 percent down on the previous year. 
Swiss wines particularly suffered, with consumption down nearly ten percent on the previous year.  
“The demand for Swiss wines could not be entirely satisfied due to the poor quantities of grapes harvested in Switzerland between 2013 and 2015,” said the BLW.
While wine-lovers in the country drank considerably less Swiss white wine in 2016 (down 13.1 percent), they were able to compensate by drinking foreign whites, whose sales grew by 1.9 percent.
However red wines were less popular in general, with Swiss reds down 6.3 percent and foreign reds down 0.9 percent.
The fact that, overall, consumption of imported wines was also down – if only by 0.2 percent – indicates a “new trend” in Swiss drinking habits, said the BLW.
Stocks of Swiss wines were replenished in 2016, a good year for domestic wine-growers, who were able to produce an above-average quantity of wine. 
“Thus for the first time since 2012 stocks of Swiss wines rose again last year by 8.3 percent,” said the BLW.
It looks unlikely that this year will follow suit. The winegrowing season has not started well for Swiss producers, after a period of dry, warm weather was followed in late April by ground frost that damaged flowering vines in many parts of the country. 
Orchards were also affected, with producers of apricots, cherries, apples and pears likely to see reduced harvests this year. 

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What is Switzerland’s ‘one franc vineyards’ scheme – and is it legit?

When news broke of vineyards being offered in the southwest of Switzerland for one franc, many asked if it was too good to be true. Here's what you need to know about the scheme (and how much a vineyard will actually cost you).

What is Switzerland's 'one franc vineyards' scheme - and is it legit?

Earlier in Spring, news broke of a new scheme where Swiss vineyards were available for just one franc. 

As with similar stories offering one franc plots of land or houses, the news spread far and wide – which of course was the point – while some eventually became disappointed. 

READ MORE: Gambarogno: The latest Swiss village to sell houses for one franc

While it’s likely to cost you a good deal more than one franc, if owning a Swiss vineyard (or at least part of it) is on your bucket list, you now have an opportunity to do so. 

Why are Swiss vineyards going cheap?

With nearly 5,000 hectares of vineyards and 60 different grape varieties, Valais is Switzerland’s largest wine-growing region.

Unfortunately, 20 percent of the canton’s vines are abandoned and municipalities must uproot them because they can’t find people willing to cultivate them.

A case in point is the community of Savièse, nestled in a picturesque Alpine valley. About 120 plots — four to five hectares — of  its vineyards were abandoned by their owners and therefore not harvested last year, as the commune can’t find people to do the work.

This is a serious case of neglect because “when a vine is not pruned, there is a period of one year to uproot it. Otherwise, there is a risk of spreading disease”, according to Savièse’s mayor, Sylvain Dumoulin.

“There are some vines where we need to do this now, and I fear the number will increase in the future”, he added.

How much does a plot cost?

In order to protect its winemaking traditions in general and abandoned plots in particular, the municipality has launched a new vines-saving project which includes a “stock exchange” of sorts for the sale and purchase of abandoned parcels.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to drink wine like a Swiss

Dumoulin didn’t reveal the cost of a plot of vineyard, as it depends on its location, condition and other factors.

Unfortunately, while you may have seen articles reporting that parcels are being sold for “a symbolic one franc”, this is more than likely a marketing ploy to attract attention than a realistic price.

Savièse’s vineyards. Screenshot, Saviè

“The main long-term objective is to encourage the grouping of plots and thus the rationalisation of the exploitation of these parcels”, Dumoulin told The Local.

He added that currently the project is “exclusively accessible for people who already own vineyards. But from July it will be open to anyone with an interest in purchasing vineyard areas”.

From then on, “anyone can download the application to find plots of vines for sale and to make their owner a price proposal”. 

The app, called “Vignoble Savièse” can be purchased in Apple or Google stores.

One example of such a gimmick was the Ticino town of Gambarogno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, which offered houses for one franc.

‘Impossible’: Why Switzerland’s one franc homes are too good to be true

As The Local reported, “the news – along with pictures of the Ticino countryside and the lake itself – spread across the globe, with people inside and outside of Switzerland letting themselves dream”. 

However, the “rustic houses with the view of the lake” turned out to be nothing more than ruins, with no roofs, windows, electricity or running water, situated in remote locations — about an hour’s walk from the nearest village.