I’ve had number of odd jobs here in Switzerland, and I’m finding that my favorites are the ones that involve perks for payment. Writing articles for My Girlfriend Guide has sent me on some pretty fun adventures, including the Veuve Cliquot Chalet, tasting all the Swiss chocolate I could find, and most recently, a trip to Montreux, Switzerland with a private tour of the Lavaux wine region.
The only problem with these fun journalist trips is not having company. I could have stayed all day drinking wine with friends in the wineries of Lavaux. Between the beautiful scenery, rich history, and delicious wines, I didn’t want to leave! Luckily, I now have a good idea of how to plan a trip when I’m ready to go back, as it is a bit confusing to plan on your own.
Lavaux is a mere two and half hours away by train from Zurich, and situated next to the music city of Montreaux. This UNESCO world heritage site is referred to as the “Land of Three Suns” because the wines grow with the sun from the sky, sun that reflects off of the lake, and sun from the walls that have absorbed its heat.
Winemaking in Lavaux dates back to the 11th century, when monks started growing vineyards on the narrow and steep terraces supported by stonewalls. Many of the wineries located there today have been passed on through many generations. The main grape of the Lavaux region is the Chasselas, as it is believed that the grape originated there.
The Chasselas is a sparkling, fruity, fresh wine, with mineral overtones and pairs well with fish and cheese. The wines of the region are named after the villages they are grown in, and there are 14 villages in total. There are 200 winemakers, 830 hectares, 400 kilometers of walls, and 10,000 terraces planted on 40 levels. Each wine maker has their own cellar in the area, and most are open for tastings to the public.
Want to plan your own trip? I suggest picking 3-5 villages that you would like to visit. You can first check out the map of the area as well as the suggested walks to get an idea of where you might want to go. The “Chemin du Dezaley” is considered to be the most breathtaking path, and is included in this walk.
Once you have decided on what villages you will be visiting, find out which wineries are located in that village, many are listed here, and the full list is here (but the site is only in French). Check the winery’s website for the hours open to the public, or call to make an appointment. Many wineries are open everyday but require an appointment before visiting, so don’t hesitate to call. They also usually speak English, even if their website is only in French and German.
Let me tell you about my recent wine touring day which I highly recommend. From Montreux, I took the train to Chexbres-Village and walked to Domaine Bovy’s Cellar. The nice winemaker let me taste 4 wines along with bread flutes. He showed me his cellar filled with beautiful handpainted barrels, and even gave me a taste straight from the barrel.
From Domaine Bovy, I took a nice stroll to Rivaz and visited Domaine Chappuis and had a taste of his wines.
I saw the wine buses along the way, which is a great option for people that don’t want to hike the hills. My tour guide casually mentioned that it’s mostly for the Americans. She tried to back peddle, realizing that I’m also American, but I thought it was pretty funny. We have a pretty lazy rap around Europe.
The last stop of the day was at the Lavaux Vinorama where I watched a short film on winemaking in the region. After the movie, I got to pick a few more wines to taste from their huge selection of all wines from the region.
Not a bad “work trip,” if I do say so myself!