Posted On Friday, April 30, 2010 at 12:29:27 AM
What is that first thing comes to your mind when you think of Switzerland? Probably the lovely picturesque landscape, chocolates, watches etc and now I think you could consider adding Swiss wines to the list too!
They have some yummy wines that aren’t necessarily easily available in the Indian market (considering most of their produce is mostly consumed within its borders).
Their wine region is relatively small, about 15000 hectares. Vines are grown mainly on the steep Alpine slopes in the Cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais and Vaud.
The train journey from Geneva to Montreux passes along the lake of Geneva with vineyards all along the steep slopes. It is a breathtaking sight.
Earlier we had spent two weeks in Italy, later a week in Hungary and now in the last leg of our study tour (as part of our International Vintage master course) in the French speaking part of Switzerland where we were to spend three days.
It was a home coming of sorts for me since I had spent two years in this country – one year attending an ICYE cultural exchange programme in Zurich volunteering at a wildlife park feeding bears!
The second time I was there to attend one year Hotel Management course in Luzern followed by an internship in Geneva.
That gave me an opportunity to discover every nook and corner of this tiny but beautiful country. Switzerland has a population of 6 to 7 million. This trip gave me an opportunity to meet my old friends and my host parents with whom I had lived.
We were staying at a school dormitory (since the school had vacations) in the lovely Vaud valley with the Alps on both sides and the river with crystal clear water. After the long train journey from Budapest to Geneva, the next day we were ready to hit the road again to explore this part of Europe.
The first stop was Domaine du Cret Blanc. This vineyard has biodynamic practices (environment friendly!). Appellation d’Origine Morges Controlee has 680 hectares and is part of the biggest AOC Canton of Vaud. This domain gave us insights into environment friendly, sustainable viticulture.
The big storm of 1967 led to a huge soil erosion and therefore innovative techniques were put into practice to control erosion. The vineyard slopes have cemented drains that lead the rain water to a pond where the eroded soil collects, which is later put back into the vineyard.
Other steps taken to prevent erosion were planting of various herbs on the slopes and on the edges of the field. There were distinct efforts made to preserve the biodiversity of the place. It seems like a very holistic viticulture practice which is sustainable.
The next stop was the Canton of Geneva, Dardagny Commune, and Domain Les Hutins. The Geneva region has a total of 1500 hectares of vineyards in total of this 150 h in the commune of Dardagny of which 25 hectares is in this property. They have wines from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.