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Swiss wine-growing is quite widely dispersed throughout the large Ostschweiz region, and relatively small scale. There is a mosaic of tiny vineyards. The largest north-eastern wine cantons are those of Zürich, Schaffhausen, Aargau, Graubünden (without Misox and Mesolcina, see Ticino), Thurgau, St. Gallen, and Basle (Basel). The remaining cantons of Schwyz, Berne (Thunersee), Lucerne, Appenzell, Solothurn, Glarus, Zug, and Unterwalden between them only account for 2.5% of the total production of Ostschweiz.

In order to understand the relative size of the area of vines under cultivation in Ostschweiz, it is worth bearing in mind that its total of 2,300 hectares in one third of the country is less than that of either Valais or Vaud. Prior to the visit of phylloxera much more wine was made in Ostschweiz.

Ostschweiz Wine SwitzerlandThe combination of phylloxera and the increasing demands of quality between them have decimated the vineyards of Ostschweiz. This is most noticeable around Basle, partly due to the expansion of the city, and in Thurgau and Solothurn.

The climate in Ostschweiz is also not particularly beneficial for wine-growing, being too cold and too wet. Better conditions though can be found in the immediate surrounds of the many lakes (Thunersee, Brienzersee, Zurichsee, Zuger See, Vierwaldstätter See, Walensee, Bodensee), the rivers (Rhine, Aar, Reuss, and Thur), and in the valleys through which the fohn blows (St. Gallen, Grisons). The lowest vineyards are at 300 metres (984 feet) near Basle and the highest at 600 metres (1,968 feet) in the Herrschaft of Grisons (Graubünderland).

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