Wine and Switzerland, a meaningful relationship


Switzerland is the leading country in the jeweler’s craft and clockmaking. Yet the Swiss also have others fields of excellence. They produce a range of fine wines, which are very appreciated by the connoisseurs. Appreciated but pretty rare while the Swiss are, according to a Movehub Study, the Europeans that spend the most on wine with over 500€ a year per capita. This leads the Swiss market to be a golden opportunity for the different wine actors and especially for the European wine producers. Thus, the question is to what extent could the Swiss market be a booming market for the wine producers or resellers ?

Review of the main characteristics of the Swiss wine production

Switzerland is a small country in terms of area compared to big wine producers as France, Italy or Spain. In 2017 the Swiss vineyard is 68 times smaller than the Spanish one, 50 times smaller than the French one and 41 times smaller than the Italian vineyard. Also, its mountainous and hilly reliefs makes the land propitious to wine producing even more rare. Thus, there are six main wine-producing regions in Switzerland : Geneva, Vaud, German-Switzerland, Ticino, Valais and the Three lakes. The biggest wine-producing region is the Valais, then comes the Vaud. In 2017, red wines represent 57% of the grape variety against 43% for the white wines. The most popular type of wines in Switzerland are the Pinot Noir, the Chasselas and the Gamay . They usually represent 60 to 70% of the cultivated grapes. 2017 was an especially difficult year for the Swiss market because its harvest had been at its lowest since 40 years. This situation comes from poor weather conditions over the past 5 years.Therefore the wine exports of Switzerland are paltry in 2017 but also in general.
Indeed, the Swiss drink almost all of their production. Over the 79 millions liters of Swiss wine that were produced in 2017 only 1 to 2% was exported. This is why the Swiss wine is much more expensive than the others. In average, a bottle of swiss wine is about 10 euros in a supermarket while a French bottle is about 6 euros. Because of its rarity and its price the Swiss wine is a niche product.

Switzerland : Golden opportunity for foreign wines

Due to its non-self-sufficient wine production, Switzerland is an important market for foreign wines. Over the 249 millions liters of the wine drunk in Switzerland in 2017 60 % was imported : 123 millions liters of red wines, 40 millions liters of white wines and 19,5 millions liters of sparkling wines. France, Italy and Spain are the countries that export the most in Switzerland. Italian wines come first with about 77 millions liters, followed by the French wines with about 40 millions liters and then Spanish wines with about 31 millions liters. Even if the consumption of foreign white wines is stable in 2017 ( +0,3 %) and the consumption of foreign red wine has relatively decreased (-1,6%), the consumption of sparkling wine has increased by 3,2%, which tends to show that the Swiss appreciate more and more this type of wine. At the moment, champagnes and sparkling wines are very popular in Switzerland. In terms of volume of Champagne consumption Switzerland is the third market after France and Belgium. The French champagnes have excellent market opportunities in Switzerland right now with about 5 to 6 millions bottles sold to the Swiss.
Why? One reason explaining this Champagne consumption could be the important number of luxus hotels in Switzerland. Also, it’s not unusual for Swiss to accompany their whole meal with Champagne or at least to start their diner with a little glass of Champagne. Finally Champagne and Cheese make often a good working couple, and this especially remains true in one of the leading cheese countries that is Switzerland. These factors are just a few of all the reasons making the Swiss wine market very interesting for wine producers or resellers who are looking for foreign countries to export their production.

Export in Switzerland

Nonetheless, the swiss wine is also interesting for Swiss producers who want to export their wine abroad. Despite being a rare wine, the swiss wine is well worth discovering. Over the past years the consumption of Swiss wine abroad has increased but the growth is slow. More advertising could help the swiss wine getting more exposure and thus becoming more trendy. The key strategy is to insist on the Swiss wine as a genuine local product, with a great quality manufacturing process. Besides, emphasizing that it is a rare product could make it an exceptional one like the french champagne.
Stressing on the food and wine pairing is also useful. For example the french red wine is said to be the perfect drink with cheese and red meats and game. Based on this observation, the swiss wine could benefit from the success of swiss flagship products as the swiss cheeses. In 2018, the exports of cheese from Switzerland have increased of 6,4%, an unprecedented growth. 80% of the exported cheese is within the European Union. Appenzeller, Emmentaler, Gruyere , vacherin Mont d’or or tête de moine are well-known swiss cheeses, delicious with a glass of swiss wine. There is nothing better than a glass of Chasselas to go with a swiss raclette or a glass of Pinot noir with a slice of gruyere. Generally, red and white swiss wines are perfect to pair with swiss cheeses but also fish, meat, seafood or desserts. Thus the swiss wine has much to gain from how countries like France make their wines exceptional.
However, before exporting wine from or to Switzerland a wine producer needs to know what structures would be appropriate to sell his wines, what are the wines already sold in those structures or what types of wines are best-sellers in the targeted country. A good knowledge of the market in which the producer is planning to establish his products in is an absolute necessity.

As a Junior Enterprise, we are fully committed to help wine producers and resellers to develop their wine exports in Switzerland and abroad or Swiss producers who want to export their production by doing an international market study, which includes all a wine producer needs to export its products. Our International Partners and the experience we already have in the field of wines and spirits guarantees an excellent accompaniment to all of our clients. If you want to know more about us or our international expertise, feel free to take a look on our services or to contact us.