By Lisa Rowlands

Taking its name from the country’s northernmost canton and the pretty, medieval city that serves as its capital, Schaffhausen AOC is a Swiss wine appellation close to the border with Germany. With four-hundred-and-eighty hectares under vine and a reputation for high quality, it is one of German Speaking Switzerland’s most important wine-producing regions.

There are four distinct growing areas here of which Klettgau is by far the largest and most productive. Stretching along the national boundary, and encompassing the towns of Hallau, Gächlingen and Trassadingen, the district accounts for around eighty percent of the total cantonal vine, is the region’s largest contiguous wine-growing area and counts some award-winning producers amongst its number. Here, the gentle, rolling hills with soils consisting mostly of deep, calcareous clay provides perfect conditions for the appellation’s emblematic grape.

The smaller districts - between the towns of Stein am Rhein and Hemishofen in the upper part of the canton, the detached enclave of Buchberg and Rüdlingen, and the area around the city of Schaffhausen itself, each have around thirty hectares under vine comprising small parcels of mostly Pinot Noir and Müller-Thurgau. Soil composition varies between districts, and to some degree between individual plots, and the proximity of the Rhine plays an important role in temperature moderation. On the steep slopes of Stein am Rhein for example, soils are more shallow and gravelly than those of the Klettgau, whilst in Buchberg / Rüdlingen, the earth consists largely of marl and sandstone. This diversity, coupled with the variety of vinification and ageing methods used by wine-makers, results in a range of strikingly different wines being produced from a small number of varieties.