Vaud cooperative making strong comeback
Cave de la Côte in Tolochenaz, near Morges, is one of Switzerland’s largest wineries and a highly regarded cooperative, for some years now one of the pioneers that has helped us redefine positively what it means to be a coop. Head oenologist Rodrigo Banto has been making award-winning wines there for a number of years. The technical department, under Gilles Cornut (long a member of the management of the FVV – Vaud wine producers’ Interprofession) has developed a strong reputation for ensuring quality grapes from the vineyards of 350 members.
So why make any changes?
And yet, Cave de la Côte has just presented a new logo to the world (and some of the most fun stainless steel tanks I’ve seen in a while), and says it is building a new image. “The art and passion behind wine” is its new tag line, to underscore the reality that creativity and small productions are also part of a large cooperative (80 employees, 30 grape varieties going on 35 and some 200 wines), and a key to the future.
The new logo is simple and clear, a painter’s canvas with a wine red frame and the name with a “sober and contemporary” typeface that pays homage to the roots and traditions of the region’s wines. Next year the winery celebrates its 90th birthday.
Why now: the winery has come out of some years in the red, some difficult years in terms of production with extreme hail and untimely frosts, only to face a capricious, unpredictable and changing wine consumption market, in Switzerland and further afield.
The cooperative’s finances are now looking healthy and wine innovation is strong throughout La Côte, an area that corresponds roughly to the slopes above Lake Geneva between Geneva and Lausanne. Wines that weren’t profitable have been abandoned, the production processed has been streamlined and modernized. Shifting gears when a winery is this size is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but Cave de la Côte is doing it.
“We’re a group of 350 artisanal and creative growers,” says CEO Julien Hoefliger. “We make wines with a passion for the tastes of our varied groups of consumers, which allows us to keep alive the long tradition of grape-growing and winemaking throughout the La Côte region. When we are doing well, it means the vineyards here are doing well.”
Staying in step with market trends – often hard to foresee – is one of the challenges now. Organic and natural wines are suddenly in demand by consumers, and happily the region has been moving in these directions. Hoefliger points out that consumers are not yet familiar enough with the new grape varieties developed by Nyon-based Changins, the federal viticulture research station: the emphasis is on disease-resistant grapes that allow growers to reduce or abandon herbicides and pesticides.
We can expect more red wines and more wines from grapes that have been developed in the past 20 years, as producers in the region have learned to make very high quality wines from them. We can expect to see a dynamic lineup of wines that meets consumer demands in the area, but also in German-speaking Switzerland, an important market with somewhat different tastes and needs from those in Vaud. We can expect large production lines, as well as small ones, and a good range of prices.