Late autumn with the vineyards bathed in golden light is the perfect moment to take a tour around some of Switzerland's wineries and wine visitor centers.
Sue Style, the author of the beautiful book The Landscape of Swiss Wine, has exclusively shared some of her favorites from around Switzerland. Earmark them for a visit, but be sure to call ahead of time to find out whether they have finished harvesting. With this being the key moment of the year for winemakers, you want to be certain it is convenient for them to receive you.
On the Heidaweg Trail to the St. Jodern Kellerei
If you are fit, ambitious, and thirsty, take the winding Heidaweg trail from the town of Visp up to Visperterminen. High above the valley at 1300 meters, make a stop at St Jodern Kellerei, a wine cooperative founded 40 years ago. Their objective is to ensure that these challenging, high-altitude vineyards continue to be farmed.
The specialty here is Heida, a spicy, aromatic white grape that gives both dry and naturally sweet wines. It is best to taste Heida with a selection of local air-dried meats and alp cheese.
Domaine Jean-René Germanier in Vétroz
Situated on the edge of the village of Vétroz in central Valais is one of Switzerland's larger, privately owned wineries. Stop by Domaine Jean-René Germanier on weekdays during office hours or on Friday and Saturday evenings for a tasting of their stunning range of wines.
The best wines are matured in small oak barrels in their 200-year-old vaulted cellar. Wines can be tasted in the wood-panelled caveau and they also offer raclette, fondue, or brisolée, the traditional autumn chestnut feast.
Celliers de Sion offers a wine experience
Celliers de Sion is a prize-winning, architect-designed wine tourism center just outside the town of Sion in the Valais. It is owned by two large winemaking companies, Varone and Bonvin. There are loads of possibilities including tastings, vineyard walks and bike tours. The vineyards have shaded terraces where you can get raclette, dried meats, salads and alp cheese. And finally, there is a shop specializing in Varone and Bonvin wines.
Lavaux Vinorama offers wines from 150 different wine makers
On the edge of the village of Rivaz in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site vineyards of Lavaux is another wine-themed center worth a detour: Lavaux Vinorama.
There is an excellent video that tracks the work of a handful of local winemakers and illustrates the different tasks, from deep snowy winter days through to the golden glow of the harvest. Adjoining the video room is a wine bar and shop with wines from around 150 different vignerons, with a regularly changing selection available for tasting.
On Saturday mornings, Domaine Henri Cruchon near Morges
If you are anywhere in the neighborhood of Echichens near Morges in Canton Vaud one Saturday morning, be sure to push through the portal into the courtyard of Domaine Henri Cruchon.
Tasting tables will be arranged around the cellar and members of the family are on hand to guide you through a selection of their wines. Chasselas and Pinot Noir are the stars here. A light brunch is served, too.
A family affair at Domaine de Chambleau in Colombier
Perched in the middle of the vineyards of Colombier above Lake Neuchâtel is Domaine de Chambleau. Every week on Friday evening and Saturday morning, the owners Louis-Philippe and Valérie Burgat will host a wine tasting.
It is a great way to visit a beautiful domaine that is still in the hands of a single family.
Pinot Noir from Kloster Sion
Check the website of Weingut zum Sternen in Würenlingen, canton of Aargau, for the dates of their occasional tastings. Pinot Noir grown in their historic Kloster Sion vineyards is king here.
On Friday evenings, tastings are held in the Villa Lang adjoining the winery. And on Saturday mornings, check into the winery shop for a sampling of their Pinot Noir.
Weingut Donatsch in Malans spans over five generations
The sunny Bündner Herrschaft produces some of Switzerland’s finest wines. And with its warm and dry summer, 2018 was the best harvest in six decades. The Donatsch family has been producing wine for five generations, and they also run the historic tavern Zum Ochsen in the village of Malans.
Zum Ochsen is possibly the most convivial place to taste Weingut Donatsch wines. For an authentic pairing, order a bowl of Bündner Gerstensuppe (pearl barley soup) and air-dried Bündnerfleisch along with a glass of wine from their winery.
Moncucchetto in Lugano for architecture lovers
The winery buildings of Moncucchetto in Lugano were designed by the local architect Mario Botta. A visit to the sleek, modern wine cellar adds an extra dimension to a wine tasting here. As a contrast to the sleek exterior, the barrel cellar features exposed rock.
Moncucchetto offers guided wine tastings accompanied by experts. Also, the in-house gourmet chef, Andrea Muggiano, will prepare seasonal menus on request for groups from 10 to 80 people.
The Landscape of Swiss Wine Book
Available for 34.90 francs from Bergli Books (use code NEWLYSWISSED to save 10%), this publication describes 50 vineyards from Switzerland's main wine regions. Published in English, this is the ultimate guide to Swiss wine. It has information about the best winemakers and how to taste their vintages.