Text: Marcus Bratter
Summer has arrived in the Alps and the vineyards are responding with their usual vigour. The vines burst into flower in June and the growers have been in the vineyards pruning excess leaves and fruit and spraying against insects ever since. This warm, sunny period is the best time to visit the vineyards of Valais. There are many walks and drives that meander through the different villages of the Canton and destinations which provide further motivation to visit the region.
It is not always well known that most winemaking villages have small wine bars called “caveaux” that are run by a cooperative of winemakers as a means of showcasing their products. The wonderful side of this is that you can taste many wines at one destination whilst experiencing the unique atmosphere of the local wine region.
Here I have outlined a few: The Caveau de Saillon, in the centre of the medieval walled village of the same name, is open on weekends and showcases about 11 winemakers.
The Caveau de Chamoson, just behind the church in the centre of the town, is open almost every day and serves wines from almost 30 Chamoson wineries.
In Sion visit the “Verre à Pied” at Rue du Grand-Pont 29 where you can find a choice of over 150 wines from the region, you can also lunch in the Brasserie named after the street at No.6.
Travel further west and you come to Sierre and the famous Château de Villa, hosting over 630 wines from over 100 wine makers. This Mecca of wine is not to be missed, set in an 18th century château, there is also a restaurant serving local fare and offering a Raclette tasting with different Valais cheeses. It is run by the legendry, local wine expert Dominique Fournage, who started the Label Nobilis awards in 1985 – now considered the reference for Valais wines. Finally the crowning event of the local wine calendar is Vinea, also in Sierre. Scheduled this year, for the weekend of August 31, this open-air wine tasting event allows you to meet the makers and taste the wines from 150 winemakers. You buy a glass for CHF20 and then wander happily from stand to stand tasting wines. You can also order your wines here, a great way to restock your cellar for the coming winter. So get your walking shoes on and happy tasting!