Swiss 2012 wine production down 10% in 1 year but quality high

Vineyards in Sierre and Salgesch/Salquenen in early November 2012, with many late harvest grapes still on the vines and dubious weather in the air

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The 2012 wine harvest in Switzerland was the subject of an odd mix of projections during the year, ranging from terrible to very good.

The explanation is simple: a year of weather extremes touched different regions in different ways and, as the year progressed, the positive or negative  outlook often turned around.

The net result, figures released last week by Bern show, was a 2012 harvest “of good quality” but due to variable meteorological conditions, of lower quantity. The wine grape harvest was 1.004 million hectolitres (100 litres = 1 hectolitre), down 7 percent from the average for the past five years and 10 percent less than the 2011 record harvest.

Wines are now in the cellars, maturing and being sampled as they develop, and the reports coming in, says Bern, are positive.

That’s mixed news for many Swiss wine producers, who have been worried about growing stocks, as good years coupled with slipping consumption throughout Europe, including Switzerland. These may now start to move, but the price of producing the 2012 wines could well be higher for many producers. 

Capricious year obliged growers to pick only top quality grapes

Destalking at Domaine La Capitaine in Begnins in cold, wet weather, 16 May 2012

Then again, the start of the summer was particularly hot and dry in some places – and autumn brought a number of very heavy sudden rainfalls just around harvest time, which raises the risk of rot on the vines.

The result was that many growers had to manually sort their grapes to get rid of any infected grapes, a costly and time-consuming process. “Thanks to this laborious work, high quality grapes were used to make wine, to such an extent that consumers won’t be deceived by [2012's] good wines.