HARVEST, DRINK AND CELEBRATE THIS YEAR’S LOCAL WINES!
by Alexandra Belz
Being literally surrounded by beautiful vineyards where I live in Bernex, it’s hard to miss all the frenetic activity that starts in September every year as the wineries harvest their grapes during the Vendanges. As a keen wine drinker, I decided to find out more about this year’s Vendanges – in the name of research!
A GOOD YEAR
Vendanges means grape harvest and after a bad harvest in 2013 and 2014 and an even worse harvest in 2017, finally 2018 is a particularly good year because the originally mediterranean, sun- and heat loving vines, could grow to their full potential in the hot and dry temperatures we experienced during spring and summer this year. The warm and dry September climate further helped the Swiss grapes to develop their individual notes and aromas.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
If you’d like to witness the wine harvesting this year, you’re spoilt for choice around here!
Geneva, being Switzerland’s third wine-producing canton with its 1400 hectares (Vaud is number two- and Valais the number one region), is divided into three territories:
- La RIVE DROITE (790 hectares) stretches out from Satigny to Céligny and Collex-Bossy.
- Between ARVE et RHONE (270 hectares) is the area of Bernex, Lully, Confignon, Soral and Laconnex.
- Between ARVE and LAC (283 hectares) you will find Cologny, Meinier, Choulex and Jussy all the way to Hermance.
You can have a hands-on harvesting experience by signing up at the wineries directly (or through the Office de Promotion des Produits Agricoles de Genève – tel. 022- 388 71 55 or email email@example.com. If you sign up for the whole harvest, the wineries will even pay for your work and you’re required to sign a contract, normally including food and drinks as part of your pay (no wine during working hours, though!)
BE A HARVESTER FOR A DAY IN GENEVA
You start your day with a breakfast and then work with the harvesters in the vineyards, followed by grape pressing with an ancient manual press and an explanation of the wine-making process.
An apéritif accompanied by cheese and wine is next, followed by a lunch with the harvesters and including a tasting of 5 different wines.
You take home a bottle of wine (for adults) or grape juice (for children). Cost: CHF60 (adults), CHF30 12-16 years – and children under 12 are free.
MORE INFO on their website.
You can also just get involved for a morning this year in Martigny – where you’re invited to come along with your secateurs, enjoy a coffee and croissant and then head for the vineyards for some hard work, before enjoying an apéritif, meal and party!
But if, like me, you’re worried about creating work for your physiotherapist after those full days of bending forward over the grape vines, find out when your closest winery will harvest their grapes and just go to watch others do the hard work! This is definitely my choice – and it’s fascinating to watch!
CELEBRATE THE HARVEST
Some villages along lake Geneva have celebrated the wine harvest for decades by hosting food- and wine stalls, which reflects how proud the villagers are of their wine and its tradition. Here are some up-coming events in the area that are worth taking a day trip out for on a beautiful late summer’s day. We’ve listed some of them below.
FÊTE DU RAISIN – FÉCHY
The village of Féchy is celebrating their harvest festival on Saturday, 22nd of September, with local food, wine tastings, grape pressing and activities for the children. During the evening live music will continue the festivities.
It promises to be a fun day out!
Saturday, 22nd of September
Féchy, 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Geneva.
For more info visit their website.
AU COEUR DES VENDANGES– MARTIGNY
In Martigny you are invited to rock up in the morning with your secateurs, enjoy a coffee and croissant before working in the vineyards during the morning, followed by an apéritif in the vineyards, a meal and party!
22 September 2018
Martigny, 1 hour 45 minutes’ drive from Geneva.
On their website.
FÊTE DES VENDANGES – LUTRY
In Lutry the harvest festival is a very traditional three-day festival with concerts, entertainment, parades and wine tastings…
As many as 20,000 visitors come to celebrate and take part in the parade on Sunday.
Friday evening and all day Saturday, the town is alive with activities, concerts and traditional games, including wine tasting competitions for the adults. There are over twenty wine cellars present at the event.
Sep 28, 2018 – Sep 30, 2018
Lutry, one hour drive from Geneva.
On their website.
FÊTE DES VENDANGES – NEUCHÂTEL
Three days of festivities in this beautiful village including 100s of stands, parades, tastings and fireworks.
28 till 30 September
Neuchâtel, 1 hour 45 minutes’ drive from Geneva.
On their website.
FÊTE DE LA VIGNE – NYON
In Nyon the harvest festival takes place in early October, similarly with wine tastings, local food stands, live music and activities for children. The museums are open with free entry throughout the day and there will be free public transport to and from the town.
5th and 6th of October
Nyon, 30 minutes from Geneva by car.
Find more info here.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME WINE FESTIVAL IN VEVEY
Only once in your lifetime are you likely to be able to attend the famous UNESCO recognised Fête des Vignerons in Vevey, which takes place roughly every 25 years. Tickets for the 2019 festival went on sale in the second week of September and nearly half the tickets have already been sold 300 days before the event!
July 18 till August 11 2019
Vevey, 1 hour 40 minutes from Geneva by car.
Find more info and buy tickets here.