LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – Canton Vaud follows Neuchatel, Geneva and Valais with its wineries open house this weekend, and wine-lovers will find that this year the event really comes into its own. Good transportation solutions are one of the major improvements, the price is a bargain, and the 300 wineries in a canton with enormous terroir variety offer a wonderful chance to learn about wine.
And if you haven’t yet worked out that Swiss wine holds its own at the international level, this is your chance to make that discovery for yourself. Swiss wines, including several from Vaud, have taken gold and silver medals at a number of important international competitions in the past 12 months.
Hours: Wineries are open from 10:00 to 19:00 Saturday and Sunday 26-27 May. Some are holding their own additional fetes Friday evening or Monday to take advantage of the long Pentecost weekend, which is celebrated in some but not all Swiss cantons.
Price: CHF15 for the “passport” souvenir glass (don’t lose it!) that gives you entry to all the wineries as well as use of the free shuttle buses. You buy the glass at the first winery you visit and use it for tasting throughout the day.
Transport: This is a great deal: 20 percent off from any train station in Switzerland to your destination in canton Vaud (see the list) with the CFF’s RailAway offer, plus CHF3 off your wine passport. If you haven’t yet bought tickets using the CFF iPhone app, try it – it makes life simpler.
You can drive, but don‘t if you can avoid it. Most wineries are small family affairs with limited parking, in villages with small narrow streets. Drive your car and you’ll miss the charm of these villages. Remember the one small glass (= 1dl) driving rule in Switzerland. Vaud police are not known for their tolerance on this point.
Getting around: Vaud is so spread out, from the suburbs of Geneva to the far end of Lake Neuchatel and far to the east of Lake Geneva near Valais, that free shuttle buses like much smaller Geneva has used were not an option in the early years of this wine event. This year Vaud has really organized transport, and free shuttle buses are included in the price of entry, in several areas:
- Bonvillars : Yverdon-les-Bains.
- Chablais : Aigle, Bex, Ollon, Villeneuve.
- Côtes de l’Orbe : Yverdon-les-Bains.
- La Côte : Allaman, Gland, Morges, Nyon, Rolle.
- Lavaux : Chexbres, Cully, Grandvaux, Lutry, Vevey
Eating, overnight stays: A number of hotels are offering special deals, and several offer you three bottles of wine when you leave, as part of the open house days. Many of the wineries have organized food, especially featuring local products.
Details and addresses are on the excellent cavesouvertes.ch web site where you can download a brochure (French, German). You’ll find the wineries listed according to their regions.
My personal recommendations follows soon on GenevaLunch!