Three Lakes

Three Lakes

46° 55' 0" N


7° 6' 0" E




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about this region

Introduction to the Three Lakes Wine Region

The Three Lakes wine region, located in the northwest of Switzerland, is bordered by the Vaud and German Switzerland wine regions. This picturesque region surrounds Lakes Neuchâtel, Biel/Bienne, and Morat/Murten, and includes the cantons of Neuchâtel, Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, and Jura. It is renowned for producing high-quality wines, although it is the smallest wine region in Switzerland, accounting for only 6% of the country's total wine production. The region has four recognized Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designations: AOC Cheyres, AOC Lac de Bienne, AOC Neuchâtel, and AOC Vully​​​​​​.

Main Grape Varieties

The Three Lakes region cultivates a variety of grape types, including Pinot Noir, Gamaret, Chasselas, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. These grapes thrive in the region's unique terroir and contribute to its diverse wine offerings​​​​.


The climate of the Three Lakes wine region is temperate, with moderate temperatures throughout the year. The nearby lakes play a crucial role in regulating the climate, preventing extreme heat in summer and reducing frost risk in winter. The average annual rainfall is around 1,000 mm, which is evenly distributed throughout the year. The northern shores of the lakes benefit from a south-easterly aspect, providing ample sunlight that is essential for grape ripening. This consistent sunlight exposure, combined with good air circulation, helps maintain a healthy vineyard environment​​​​​​.


The soils in the Three Lakes wine region are diverse and include limestone-rich soils, clay-limestone soils, sandy soils, and stony and gravelly soils. Limestone-rich soils provide excellent drainage and contribute to the mineral complexity of the wines. Clay-limestone soils balance water retention and drainage, supporting vine growth even in dry conditions. Sandy soils, found particularly around Lake Murten, warm up quickly and promote early grape ripening. Stony and gravelly soils offer superior drainage and heat retention, aiding in the optimal ripening of grapes and enhancing the wines' robustness and complexity​​​​​​.

In summary, the Three Lakes wine region, with its temperate climate and diverse soils, provides ideal conditions for cultivating high-quality grapes. Despite its small size in terms of production, the region is renowned for its excellent wines and contributes significantly to the rich tapestry of Swiss viticulture. For more detailed information, you can explore resources such as Switzerland Tourism and Swiss Wine.


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Vineyard Hectares



1200-1400 GDD

growing degree days

Discover Terroir

Landscape Characteristics of the Three Lakes Wine Region

The Three Lakes wine region, encompassing the areas around Lakes Neuchâtel, Biel/Bienne, and Morat/Murten in Switzerland, is renowned for its picturesque and diverse landscape. This region stretches across the cantons of Neuchâtel, Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, and Jura, and is defined by its gentle hills, cultivated lands, and scenic natural areas.

Gently Sloping Hills

The vineyards in the Three Lakes region are predominantly situated on gently sloping hills. These slopes provide an ideal environment for grape growing by ensuring good drainage and optimal sun exposure, which are critical for vine health and grape quality. The slopes are primarily found on the northern shores of the lakes, offering a south-easterly aspect that captures sunlight throughout the day​​​​.

Cultivated Lands and Vineyards

The landscape is characterized by a mix of vineyards and other cultivated areas, including fields for vegetable crops. The region's vineyards are meticulously maintained, with rows of vines stretching across the hillsides, creating a patchwork of green during the growing season. These cultivated lands reflect the region's agricultural heritage and its focus on high-quality viticulture​​.

Natural and Protected Areas

In addition to its agricultural landscapes, the Three Lakes region includes several near-natural and environmentally protected areas. These areas preserve the local flora and fauna, offering a contrast to the cultivated vineyards and fields. The protection of these natural spaces highlights the region's commitment to biodiversity and environmental sustainability​​.

Scenic Lakes

The three lakes—Neuchâtel, Biel/Bienne, and Morat/Murten—are central to the region's identity. These lakes not only influence the local climate, making it more temperate and suitable for grape growing, but also enhance the scenic beauty of the area. The lakeshores are dotted with charming towns like Neuchâtel, Murten, and Biel/Bienne, which add to the region's picturesque appeal​​​​.

Charming Towns and Cultural Heritage

The Three Lakes region is also known for its charming towns and rich cultural heritage. Towns such as Neuchâtel and Murten feature historical architecture, cobbled streets, and vibrant cultural scenes. The blend of natural beauty, agricultural landscapes, and historical towns makes the Three Lakes region a unique and attractive destination for both wine enthusiasts and tourists​​.

In summary, the landscape of the Three Lakes wine region is a harmonious blend of gently sloping vineyards, cultivated fields, protected natural areas, scenic lakes, and charming towns. This diverse landscape not only supports high-quality viticulture but also contributes to the region's aesthetic and cultural richness.

Climate of the Three Lakes Wine Region

The Three Lakes wine region in Switzerland, encompassing areas around Lakes Neuchâtel, Biel/Bienne, and Morat/Murten, benefits from a unique microclimate influenced heavily by the presence of these lakes. This region stretches across the cantons of Neuchâtel, Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, and Jura, and features several climatic characteristics conducive to viticulture.

Temperature and Seasons

The region experiences a temperate climate with moderate temperatures throughout the year. The presence of the lakes plays a significant role in regulating the temperature, preventing extreme heat in summer and reducing the risk of frost during winter. The average temperature ranges from 1°C in January to 24°C in July, providing a relatively mild growing season for the vines.


The Three Lakes region receives an average annual rainfall of around 1,000 mm (39 inches), which is well-distributed throughout the year. This adequate level of precipitation supports the growth of grapevines without causing excessive moisture that could lead to disease. The balanced rainfall, coupled with well-drained soils, ensures that the vines have access to sufficient water during critical growth periods without waterlogging.


Sunlight exposure is crucial for grape ripening, and the vineyards in the Three Lakes region benefit from ample sunlight. The northern banks of the lakes, where many vineyards are located, have a south-easterly aspect that maximizes sun exposure throughout the day. This consistent sunlight helps in developing the sugars and phenolic compounds in the grapes, contributing to the quality and complexity of the wines.

Microclimatic Influence of the Lakes

The lakes themselves have a significant microclimatic effect, creating a more stable and moderate environment. They act as thermal buffers, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it slowly during the night. This effect reduces temperature fluctuations and extends the growing season, allowing for a more gradual and even ripening of the grapes. The lakes also help in mitigating the impact of sudden weather changes, which can be crucial during sensitive growth phases like bud break and fruit set.

Wind and Air Circulation

The region benefits from good air circulation, which is essential for reducing humidity levels and preventing fungal diseases. Gentle breezes from the lakes help to keep the vine canopies dry, thus minimizing the risk of mildew and other moisture-related issues. This natural air movement also aids in maintaining a healthy and balanced vineyard environment.

The climate of the Three Lakes wine region, characterized by temperate conditions, well-distributed rainfall, ample sunlight, and the moderating influence of the lakes, creates an ideal environment for viticulture. These climatic factors, combined with the region's unique geographical features, contribute to the production of high-quality wines that are celebrated both locally and internationally.

Most Common Soils in the Three Lakes Wine Region

The Three Lakes wine region is known for its diverse and rich soil types. These soils contribute to the quality and characteristics of the wines produced in this area. The unique geological history of the region has resulted in a wide range of soil types, each imparting unique qualities to the grapevines.

  1. Limestone-Rich Soils: The Three Lakes region features predominant limestone-rich soils, especially around Lake Neuchâtel. These soils are highly calcareous, providing excellent drainage and fostering deep root systems in the vines. Limestone-rich soils are known for imparting a mineral complexity to the wines, making them particularly suitable for grape varieties like Pinot Noir and Chasselas. The high calcium content helps in maintaining the soil structure and promoting vine health​​​​.
  2. Clay-Limestone Soils: Many vineyards in the Three Lakes region benefit from clay-limestone soils, which offer a balance of water retention and drainage. The clay component retains moisture and essential nutrients, supporting vigorous vine growth even in dry conditions. This soil type is conducive to producing grapes with well-rounded flavors and balanced acidity. The combination of clay and limestone ensures that vines have access to necessary minerals, contributing to the overall quality of the wine​​​​.
  3. Sandy Soils: Certain areas, particularly around Lake Murten, have sandy soils. These soils are characterized by their excellent drainage and ability to warm up quickly, leading to early grape ripening. While sandy soils are less fertile, they are ideal for growing white grape varieties that benefit from the quick drainage and warmth. The low fertility of sandy soils often results in lower yields but higher quality grapes, which are concentrated in flavors and aromatics​​.
  4. Stony and Gravelly Soils: The region also includes stony and gravelly soils, especially in the sloped vineyard areas. These soils provide superior drainage and heat retention, which are crucial for the optimal ripening of grapes. The presence of stones and gravel helps in reflecting sunlight onto the vines, aiding in the development of sugars and phenolic compounds in the grapes. This soil type is beneficial for producing robust and complex wines with a strong sense of terroir​​.

The varied soil types of the Three Lakes wine region, from limestone-rich and clay-limestone to sandy and stony soils, create a unique terroir that significantly influences the characteristics and quality of its wines. Understanding these soils provides insight into the region's viticultural practices and the distinctive qualities of its wines.


Most Common Grapes in the Three Lakes Wine Region

The Three Lakes wine region is renowned for its unique terroir that supports the cultivation of various grape varieties, such as Pinot Noir and Gamaret on the reds side or Chasselas, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay on the whites side. 

Most Common Red Grapes

Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is the most widely planted red grape variety in the Three Lakes wine region. This red grape thrives in cooler climates, making the temperate conditions around the lakes ideal for its cultivation. The moderated temperatures, influenced by the lakes, prevent extreme heat and reduce the risk of frost, which is crucial for Pinot Noir. The vineyards typically have well-drained, limestone-rich soils that are essential for the development of this red grape. Pinot Noir requires careful vineyard management, including controlled yields and precise canopy management to ensure the best quality fruit​​​​.

Gamaret: Gamaret, a hybrid grape developed in Switzerland, is well-suited to the climatic conditions of the Three Lakes region. It prefers slightly warmer conditions compared to Pinot Noir but still benefits from the moderated temperatures provided by the nearby lakes. This grape is relatively resistant to common diseases, which is advantageous for sustainable viticulture practices. Gamaret vines thrive in well-drained soils with good sun exposure, which helps in achieving the desired ripeness and concentration​​​​.

Most Common White Grapes

Chasselas: Chasselas is the dominant white grape variety in the Three Lakes region. It is well-adapted to the moderate climate influenced by the lakes, which provide a stable growing environment. Chasselas requires fertile, well-drained soils, often found on the gently sloping hillsides of the region. The grape benefits from the long, warm days and cooler nights, which help in maintaining the right balance of acidity and sugar levels. Regular vineyard maintenance and proper irrigation are essential to support the growth of Chasselas vines​​​​.

Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris, known locally as Malvoisie, is another important white grape in the Three Lakes region. This grape variety requires a moderate climate, which the region provides through the tempering effects of the lakes. Pinot Gris vines thrive in well-drained, calcareous soils that offer good fertility. The grape benefits from a slightly cooler environment, which helps in developing the complexity and depth of the fruit. Proper canopy management and controlled yields are crucial to ensure the high quality of the Pinot Gris harvest​​​​.

Chardonnay: Chardonnay is cultivated in the Three Lakes region, benefiting from the moderate climate and well-drained, limestone-rich soils. This grape variety requires careful vineyard management to avoid over-ripening, as it is sensitive to temperature fluctuations. The lakes' influence helps in maintaining a stable climate, which is crucial for the balanced growth of Chardonnay. The grape thrives in environments where there is good sun exposure and cool nights, allowing for a slow and steady ripening process​​​​.

The Three Lakes wine region's unique climatic and geographical conditions make it ideal for cultivating a variety of grapes. Each grape variety, whether red or white, requires specific conditions that the region naturally provides. Sustainable viticulture practices further enhance the quality and sustainability of wine production in this picturesque Swiss wine region.

Most Common Wines from the Three Lakes Wine Region

The Three Lakes wine region is renowned for its focus on producing high-quality wines, from different grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chasselas, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Gamaret.

Most Common Red Wines

Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir from the Three Lakes region is characterized by its elegant and complex profile. Aromatically, it offers a bouquet of red fruits such as cherry, raspberry, and strawberry, often accompanied by floral notes of rose and violet. On the palate, these wines are typically light to medium-bodied with a silky texture and flavors of fresh red fruits, complemented by subtle earthy undertones and hints of spice. The balanced acidity and fine tannins contribute to a smooth, lingering finish, making Pinot Noir a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of dishes​​​​. One of the most renowned wines produced from Pinot Noir in this region is Oeil de Perdrix.

Gamaret: Gamaret wines from the Three Lakes region are known for their rich and robust character. The aromatic profile includes dark berries such as blackberry and blueberry, along with spicy notes of black pepper and clove. On the palate, Gamaret is full-bodied with a firm tannic structure, offering flavors of ripe black fruits, plum, and a touch of licorice. The wine often exhibits a pleasant spiciness and a hint of smokiness, which adds to its complexity. The balanced acidity and substantial body make it an excellent choice for pairing with hearty dishes​​​​.

Most Common White Wines

Chasselas: Chasselas is the most widely planted white grape in the Three Lakes region, producing wines that are typically light and refreshing. Aromatically, Chasselas wines offer delicate notes of white flowers, citrus fruits like lemon and lime, and subtle hints of green apple and pear. On the palate, these wines are light-bodied with a crisp acidity and flavors of fresh citrus, apple, and a slight minerality. The clean and refreshing finish makes Chasselas an excellent aperitif or a versatile companion to light and fresh dishes​​​​.

Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris, locally known as Malvoisie, produces wines with a rich and aromatic profile. The nose is often dominated by aromas of ripe stone fruits such as peach and apricot, along with floral notes and a hint of honey. On the palate, Pinot Gris is typically medium to full-bodied with a creamy texture, offering flavors of ripe pear, nectarine, and a touch of spice. The balanced acidity and slight sweetness make it a versatile wine that pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes​​​​.

Chardonnay: Chardonnay from the Three Lakes region is appreciated for its elegance and balance. Aromatically, it presents notes of citrus fruits, green apple, and occasionally tropical fruits like pineapple and mango, depending on the ripeness. On the palate, Chardonnay is medium-bodied with a smooth texture, showcasing flavors of apple, pear, and a hint of vanilla or butter if aged in oak. The wine's well-integrated acidity and minerality contribute to a crisp, refreshing finish, making it a great match for a variety of dishes, including seafood and creamy sauces​​​​.

The Three Lakes wine region offers a remarkable variety of wines, each with unique aromatic and flavor profiles. From the elegant and complex Pinot Noir to the light and refreshing Chasselas, and the rich and aromatic Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, to the robust and spicy Gamaret, these wines reflect the diverse terroir and skilled viticulture of the region. These wines not only showcase the region's potential but also provide delightful experiences for wine enthusiasts around the world.


430-600 m


60-100 mm


The most common soils within the region are limestone soils, clay-limestone soils, sandy soils and stony-gravelly soils

top varietal

Pinot Noir, Gamaret, Chasselas, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay

History of wine

History of Viticulture in the Three Lakes Wine Region

The Three Lakes wine region in Switzerland, encompassing areas around Lakes Neuchâtel, Biel/Bienne, and Morat/Murten, boasts a long and storied history of viticulture. This region, known for its favorable microclimate and fertile soils, has played a significant role in Swiss winemaking traditions over the centuries.

Early History

Viticulture in the Three Lakes region dates back to Roman times, when the Romans introduced grape cultivation to many parts of Switzerland. The tradition of viticulture was sustained and further developed during the Middle Ages by monastic communities, who refined grape growing and winemaking techniques. By the 15th century, the region had well-established vineyards, driven by the need for sacramental wine and local consumption​​​​.

Middle Ages to Modern Times

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Three Lakes region saw significant growth in vineyard areas, with monastic orders in Neuchâtel leading the way in viticultural practices. The region faced challenges in the 19th century, such as the phylloxera epidemic and powdery mildew, which threatened vineyards across Europe. These challenges led to the adoption of new vine varieties and pest-resistant rootstocks, fostering innovations in viticulture and a greater focus on quality and sustainability​​​​.

20th Century Developments

The 20th century marked a period of modernization for the Three Lakes wine region. The introduction of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system in the late 1980s helped standardize and protect the quality of Swiss wines, including those from this region. The development of hybrid grape varieties like Gamaret and Garanoir, designed to thrive in the local climate and soil conditions, further enhanced the region's viticultural profile​​​​.

Contemporary Viticulture

Today, the Three Lakes region is recognized for its commitment to sustainable and organic viticulture. Over 20% of the vineyards in Neuchâtel are managed organically, reflecting a strong dedication to environmental stewardship. The region continues to innovate with new grape varieties and advanced winemaking techniques while preserving its rich heritage and tradition. These practices ensure the production of high-quality wines, making the Three Lakes region a significant player in the Swiss wine industry​​​​.

The combination of historical heritage, climatic advantages, and modern practices makes the Three Lakes wine region a standout in Swiss viticulture. Its wines, particularly those made from Pinot Noir, Chasselas, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Gamaret, are celebrated both locally and internationally, showcasing the region's dedication to quality and sustainability.


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