Long weekend demands mixed planning

The 2011 Chasselas, near Chamoson, Valais, recently bottled and waiting for your this weekend during the wineries open house days

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Much of Switzerland, including the Lake Geneva area, will be taking a four-day Ascension weekend starting Thursday 17 May. Some areas, for example most of canton Valais, are open for business Friday.

The weather forecast is not a springtime ideal, with rain and sun and wind wrapped around chilly temperatures, highs of 20C Friday, 25C Sunday, then dropping back to a high of 17C Monday.

Early Thursday, snow line down to 1,000 metres altitude and danger of frost on the plains.

You’ll need to keep plenty of options handy for entertainent this weekend; be sure to check our popular events page.

Big events this weekend include the winery open house days, Thursday to Saturday, throughout canton Valais, the country’s largest wine-producing region.

The bulk of the vineyards are in the villages that fan out from the Rhone river, nestled below snowy Alpine peaks, so visiting the area is always a beautiful trip.

A couple other suggestions (check the events page for details) are roasted sausages at the Chillon castle, one of Switzerland’s top tourist attractions, Saturday evening, and a stroll along Geneva’s boardwalk to see the exhibit of international cartoons.

Valais wineries open house days, suggestions

  • your first step should be to visit the Vins du Valais web site, in English; the practical information page is in French, however
  • they published a brochure in 2010, including an English version, which provides very good background material on the canton’s vineyards, wineries, grape varieties and more – available in print in a lot of wineries, but also online, for advance reading
  • the same group, which represents wineries in the canton, publishes a useful printed booklet for the Caves Ouvertes days; I picked up mine at a wonderful little boutique and wine bar, Fol’terre, at the western entrance to Fully
  • if you have an iPhone, Vins du Valais has an app that will prove useful
  • follow our wine tasting tips, for all the cantons, and please make an effort to use public transport rather than driving

Remember that you can always order the wine and have it shipped, a quick and easy solution that virtually all Swiss wineries offer.

Ed. note: I’m also a wine writer and I’ll be writing tasting notes from several of the wineries in Valais over the next three days. You can follow me on my GenevaLunch blog, Among the vines, and on my Swiss wines Facebook page, Ellen’s Wine World.