German speaking Switzerland
Oriental Switzerland is the whole of the 17 wine-producing cantons from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Its vineyards fall into three areas: the western region with Basel and the canton of Aargau; the central region with Zurich, Schaffhausen and the canton of Thurgau; and the eastern region with the cantons of Graubünden and St. Gallen.
Here the red grape varieties are the dominant ones. One quarter of the vineyard is planted with Pinot Noir (locally called Blauburgunder), which gives amazing well-nuanced red wines. The white grape varieties, which are predominated by the Müller-Thurgau (still called Riesling-Sylvaner in Switzerland), only cover 25% of the wine-growing surface.
Given the climatic conditions of German Switzerland, that are rather northern ones, the number of grape varieties reaching maturity is quite limited. Fortunately, there are other factors creating microclimates, which are favourable to the vines, such as the lakes, the rivers, the foehn (a warm wind) or the advantageous exposition of the vineyards. Rainfall varies considerably from one zone to the other, and the risks of frost in spring and in autumn are quite important.
The composition of soils is extremely diverse in this region, which spread from the Jura to the Alps and which includes important basins created by water flows.