Mixing tradition and passion to make modern Swiss wine

Source /
Helen James
Organic wine is gaining popularity and in Switzerland, some viticulturists like Jean-Denis Perrochet are also coupling this with traditional processes that have been in families for generations.

Jean-Denis Perrochet has made a name for himself making Swiss biodynamic wine and for his passionate engagement in promoting organic wine growing. In 2012, he and his wife and son started making biodynamic wine because of what he believes are its health and ecological benefits.

Situated a short distance from the city of Neuchâtel, the oenologist and his family at Domaine de La Maison Carrée harvest Swiss native Chasselas grapes before the cold temperatures reach the vines surrounding the village of Auvernier.  

By using the same processes and equipment that have been in his family for seven generations, Perrochet believes that his business has benefited from the knowledge of his ancestors who started making wine in 1827. This equipment includes an old vertical press shown in the photo gallery, which has been in operation since 1872 and is necessary for a smooth press of Auvernier’s Chasselas grapes.

Growing wine in a traditional and biodynamic way is Perrochet’s passion - working together with the effects of the rhythms of the moon and applying traditional herbal preparations to the vine are key elements of this approach: “Although this way of doing business doesn’t make it any simpler, it makes it more exciting! For us, this path is the future of our land and its cultivation, for our vines and their maintenance.”

Glass half full

Switzerland exports only 2% of the total wine it produces. Organic wine is still a niche industry in the country but more environmental consciousness is making organic wine a more popular choice. Organic wine sales in the retail trade grew by 8.4% in 2017 and reached a value of approximately CHF36 million ($36.6 million).

Family Perrochet produces about 70,000 bottles per year. Some 50% of their sales are within Canton Neuchâtel, 30% is sold in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and 20% in the French-speaking part. They export 1-2% to Japan, the US and Scandinavia.