It’s finally happening: the long-planned and anticipated Fête des Vignerons in Vevey, that once a generation event. It is well underway – crowds are big, security is good, the best vignerons-tacherons (the festival is centred around them) have been crowned, Vevey is abuzz with things to do and see, wine tasting is happening everywhere, and firsthand reports from those who’ve already been are very positive.
I have literally scores of guests this summer, many visiting the festival in Vevey, so I’m taking some time off from writing. I will be back here mid-August. Please join me so we can catch up together on wine tastings and more.
Tickets to spare, book discount, BBC4 on Swiss wine
First, though, my son has two tickets to the Fêtes des Vignerons to sell, after two people in his group of several friends from abroad couldn’t make it to Switzerland. If you’re interested in these, CHF79 each for Saturday evening 3 August, please message me, wallace at ellenworld.com. Check the festival for available tickets and details about how to use yours.
To celebrate the Fête, which takes place only every 20-25 years, I am offering a CHF9 refund to anyone who orders my book Vineglorious! Switzerland’s Wondrous World of Wine via this link. You’ll find the history of the festival there and much more in this bestselling English language introduction to Swiss wine. Offer valid for orders received up to and including 11 August, the last day of the Fête des Vignerons.
BBC4 in the UK interviewed me and a French sommelier in London about Swiss wine, just as the Fête was opening. Thank you to the many people who wrote to tell me they enjoyed it and, for those who asked, here is the link to the BBC clip. It’s a two-hour programme; wetalk about Swiss wine at minute 1.43.40.
Who’s going to the Fêtes des Vignerons
Everyone, it seems. Wine-loving friends who aren’t in the business went last Friday and said the show was spectacular, as was the lakefront setting in the specially built temporary arena. Plenty of wine to be tasted!
Vaud police report that between Thursday, opening night, and Sunday, the festival welcomed 200,000 visitors. There were no major incidents, with a relatively small number of fights around drinking areas late at night, and a small number of thefts registered, mainly of bags that were not being watched. The volume of rubbish picked up, ready for incineration early in the week was impressive, but the festival organisers managed to keep the area clean.
Shortly before the opening night safety officials held a surprise bomb alert test and were pleased to see that more than 12,000 people were evacuated in 15 minutes, in an orderly way, during a rehearsal.
The best of a generation
For more than two centuries, the best grape growers of a generation have been rewarded for their work. This year, for the first time a woman is among those crowned and rewarded. The entire festival, with its extraordinary show that includes some 6,000 volunteer actors and just about everyone in the Vevey/Chablais wine world, is about these growers. Beautiful wine requires beautiful grapes and these require attentive, knowledgeable, skilled growers. Read about the history here and the show here.
This is the 12th festival since 1797.
And the winners are:
1. Jean-Daniel Berthet, 56 years, d’Epesses/Bourg-en-Lavaux, vigneron-tâcheron chez Luc Massy Vins
2. Antonio Figliola, 54, Chexbres, vigneron-tâcheron chez Obrist SA, Henri Badoux and Louis-Philippe Bovard
3. Corinne Buttet, 56, Chardonne, vigneronne-tâcheronne for the Vignes de Vevey and Obrist SA
4. Jean-Noël Favre, 57, d’Aigle, vigneron-tâcheron for the Commune d’Aigle and Obrist SA
5. Jean-François Franceschini, 60 ans, Yvorne, vigneron-tâcheron for the Commune d’Yvorne and la Société des Mousquetaires
6. Jean-Daniel Suardet, 57, Yvorne, vigneron-tâcheron chez Obrist SA
La Confrérie gave 19 silver medals and 49 bronze as well, and monetary prizes totalling nearly CHF200,000.
What can you do while in Vevey