Morges, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – ‘Tis the season: to taste, to buy, to settle down for a pleasant glass of Swiss wine. The winelovers’ season will be up and running this week with the opening Wednesday 24 April of the Arvinis wine fair in Morges, which annually welcomes some 20,000 visitors. Special guests for 2009 are a group of top Beaujolais producers. The fair features 150 producers from around the world, but with a heavy emphasis on Swiss wines. It is conveniently located in the charming old wooden CFF Halle next to the Morges train station, so leave the car at home. Entry: CHF20 for a tasting glass that you carry around from one stand to the next.
The next big date on the wine agenda is the Geneva wineries open day, Saturday 16 May, a hugely popular event in the canton, in part because the TPG (Geneva public transport system) carries guests around from one charming wine village to the next on free shuttle buses that run every 20 minutes. It makes it easier to sample the wines from the 100 producers who participate without worrying about who will play the designated driver role. This year Terrific Terroir, the magazine produced for Opage, the canton’s agricultural products and wine promotion office, is available for free from several outlets such as tourism offices and Off the Shelf bookstore, but it can also be downloaded directly from the Opage site. It provides a useful guide to individual wineries as well as background on the canton’s wine production.
Another useful source of information if you’re exploring the wineries and intend to go further than Geneva this year is the Swiss Wine Guide 2009-2010, a reference guide to 450 of the country’s best producers, from the organizers of the Vinea wine fair, the largest in Switzerland, and Swiss publisher Ringier (Ed. note: GenevaLunch editor and wine writer Ellen Wallace was responsible for the team that produced this first-ever English version.)
Geneva’s wine open day signals the bottling of the 2008 harvest, or at least the bottling of most whites (reds are often bottled several months later), the time when they arrive on the market. This is the time when the Swiss start visiting wineries and ordering their annual supplies from their favourite producers. Geneva is Switzerland’s third largest wine-producing canton and the relative compactness makes it possible to visit a number of them in one day, but in Vaud and Valais open houses are often organized by villages or small wine regions. These open houses also begin in May and continue through June, and many of them are linked to special events that are worth checking out, such as vineyard hikes (also see the GenevaLunch events page).
The series of wine events through the spring and summer lead up to the other major wine event, Vinea, in Sierre 6-7 September. Vinea’s organizers have announced that this year, unusually, they will have two guests of honour: Burgundy and the Swiss group Association Clos, Domaines et Châteaux. The festival was originally created to let consumers meet Valais producers, many of whom are small and don’t market their wine on a large scale. It now includes other Swiss wine producers and this year wineries which feature in the Swiss Wine Guide have been invited.
If your fancy turns to wine labels as well as wine, Grandvaux Village is celebrating spring and the new bottles by opening its special competition to create an award-winning label. The village is in the heart of the Unesco Heritage Site vineyards of Lavaux. Register by 8 May and reserve 11-13 September for the village’s weekend devoted to wine labels. This year’s theme: L’Or de la Terre, l’Or du Vin.