MAKE THE MOST OF THE CAVES OUVERTES – 2019
by Chené Koscielny
If you’re into wine, walking in the countryside and hanging out with friends, you’ll love Geneva’s Caves Ouvertes – it’s the one day every year when more than 80 cellars in Geneva’s 3 main wine regions open their doors and invite wine lovers to taste this year’s vintage and some of their more mature wines.
The event is very popular attracting around 30,000 people and the wine farms go all out – with most of them also offering local food, so you can grab a burger or pizza from a food truck or a cheese and charcuterie platter to enjoy with your wine under the trees.
AND if you think Geneva is only known for Chasselas or Gamay, think again. Thanks to the more moderate climate of recent years, Geneva now also produces other vintages, including Chardonnay, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and Shiraz.
Geneva is Switzerland’s 3rd largest wine-growing canton with three distinct wine regions. Traditionally, the Mandement is the most often visited area, but keen followers of the Open Day increasingly frequent the “Entre Arve et Rhône” (Lully, Bernex, Soral, etc.) and “Arve et Lac” (Jussy, Anières, Gy, etc.) regions.
Click here for more info about Geneva wines and wine region in English.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF GENEVA’S CAVES OUVERTES – OPEN CELLARS
We spoke to Alessandra Roversi head of communications for Geneveterroir.ch, who organises this event, the 32nd one this year, about how best to approach this day.
She shared some of her tips:
PLAN YOUR TRIP IN ADVANCE
On the Geneveterroir.ch site or APP you’ll find a map showing the 3 main wine areas.
Choose one of the three areas that you’d like to explore on the day – and focus on
2/3 cellars in that area that you’d like to explore.
The 3 wine regions of Geneva are:
The RIGHT BANK, 864 hectares, which includes the Mandement. Satigny with 450 hectares is the largest wine-producing town in Switzerland. Further to the east are the vineyards of Céligny and Collex-Bossy.
Between the ARVE and the RHÔNE, 347 hectares, with the vineyards of Bernex, Lully, Confignon, Soral and Laconnex, to name but a few, set between the two rivers.
The LEFT BANK, 283 hectares, which stretches from Cologny to Hermance. Vineyards cover the slopes of Meinier, Choulex and Jussy among other wine growing communities.
Consult the Geneveterroir.ch map:
On the left side of the map – you’ll see a scroll-down menu, opt for Produits et terroir (Local products) – and then choose, Vente Directe (direct sales) and then Vin (wine) and slide button to the right. This will highlight where all the cellars are on the map.
CHOOSE CELLARS ALONG THE WINE TRAIL
In the three wine regions of Geneva, you’ll also find three well-known balades viticoles or wine trails.
On the same map: you can choose to highlight the three vineyard walks:
On the left-hand menu choose Tourisme Rural & Activités de plein air, then slide the button next to the three balades viticoles (with grapes symbols next to them) on by moving it to the right.
Now, you should have the 3 vineyard walks, as well as the open cellars along those walks highlighted on the interactive map. This is how it will look: click here.
Next, choose an area where there is a hub of cellars such as Lully, Bernex or Soral or Anières, Gy or Peissy or Dardagny and use the vineyard walk as the backbone for your visit to the cellars.
The vineyard walks are clearly signposted and include information about the grapes, etc along the way.
Wine trail Rive Droite all details:
Wine trail Entre Arve et Rhône
TRY SOMETHING NEW DISCOVER NEW AREAS
Most people head for the bigger areas with the largest concentration of cellars such as Dardigny and Satigny, but if you don’t want to stand in long queues to refill your glass and you want to avoid the crowds, why not choose an area that is a little bit less concentrated.
For example choose Soral, Lully, Bernex or Soral or Anières, Gy or Peissy and identify the cellars in that area. Take the free buses or trains to a starting point near one of the cellars and walk between them.
PLAN YOUR MODE OF TRANSPORT
In order to get to your starting point, you can choose a few different options.
For obvious reasons, driving there by car is not the best idea.
To make it easier to move around the Geneva countryside, the Open Day organisers have been working closely with TPG (Geneva Public Transport) and a free shuttle service will provide an easy way to travel between the villages (www.tpg.ch) while the CFF Swiss Railways will be running extra trains on the Geneva-La Plaine line (up to 4 services an hour at the end of the day). Transport of bikes not recommended or if you do take a bicycle, be sure to take an early train back. For more information, go to www.cff.ch/cavesgeneve
You can also rent bikes with Genève Roule : https://www.geneveroule.ch/en/rent-loan
Another option is to rent a minibus with a driver for 12 people and split the cost.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
The main aim of the day is to allow wine lovers to discover the 2018 vintage, as well as other local products available in the cellars. The idea is not to get smashed, but to drink responsibly and to learn something about say 3 or 4 local wines. Maybe you want to try 3 different types of Chasselas from 3 different cellars and compare. Or maybe you want to learn something about some of the innovative new grape types now grown in the Geneva region such as the Divico, which is fungus-resistant. For more information about wines in the Geneva region, visit this website. Find out more about the Divico grape here.
ENJOY A PICNIC
Once you’ve found a cellar and a wine you like, another option could be to buy a bottle and find a scenic spot to enjoy a picnic lunch.
Take your own food or grab a pizza, burger, risotto, cheese plate or other snack from the many food stands or food trucks put on by the cellars. You can also stop by a “Restaurant Ambassadeur du Terroir” which serve local wines and products.
If you check out the Facebook pages of the domaines/cellars you’ll be visiting, you should find details of the food that will be on offer.
GO WITH THE FLOW
The whole idea is also to enjoy yourself and to approach the day as a bit of an adventure, says Alessandra. Stay open and allow yourself to go with the flow and to discover new areas, wines and to learn something new. Have fun.
GET YOUR PASS
On the day you buy in any of the open cellar a pass for CHF 10.- which contains a drop-stop designed by Albertine, a famous local illustrator who also designed the posters for this years’ edition. With the pass comes a wineglass and this gives you then access to any cellar.
Saturday, 25 May