Recently there was yet another large-scale wine tasting event, the caves ouvertes or open [wine] cellars in Satigny, which is allegedly the largest wine-producing municipality in Switzerland.
To help get there, there were free shuttles running all day on Saturday and Sunday (10 am to 6 pm) from Geneva, stopping at each winery every 20 minutes or so. The participating wineries were all along the left and right sides of the Rhône (classified into those on the rive droite and rive gauche). Last year F and I went to another wine tasting event in Peissy, on the right side of the Rhône so this time we opted for the left side, arriving in Jussy at around 2 pm.
Entrance to the wineries is free, as always, but you have to purchase a tasting glass (just 5 CHF) to be able to taste the wine – F and I are on our way to having our very own tasting glass collection!
On that day we tasted wine from three different wineries – each with its own style and feel.
1. Château du Crest
The Château du Crest is supposed to be the largest winery in the rive gauche, and is actually listed as a Swiss Heritage Site. As we walked up to the area where they had the tables set up with the different wines and baskets of bread, we walked past a small petting zoo, a free pony ride station, and a race track lined with hay stacks and equipped with little tractors. This winery was by far the most child-friendly. They also had a great variety of delicious wines – I remember stopping at 8 different stations, each of which had at least two types of wine to taste. At one point we went down into the wine cellar and as we were walking out I overheard a little girl say to her friend, “But these look like washing machines!” I never thought about it that way but I can see what she means!
2. Château La Gara
La Gara was a more modest establishment, with three kinds of white wines to try and a few more reds (I specifically remember the number of white wines because I tasted only the whites on that day). Nonetheless, I would have to say that La Gara was by far my favorite – not only because the wine was quite good but because they also had a very talented accordionist and they served not just bread but also cheese, ham, and fresh cherry tomatoes. Those at La Gara went the extra mile to turn a simple wine tasting into a full-on wine tasting experience.
3. Château L’Évêque
L’Évêque, the third and last winery we visited, was not our favorite for a few reasons. The wine was nothing truly special and the place lacked atmosphere, if you will (perhaps it was the man serving the wine, who wasn’t very engaging). La Gara is a tough act to beat! There was also no complimentary bread either, just some small portions of raclette (or grated cheese with potatoes and pickles) available for purchase. The wine was allegedly made using a special method that takes into consideration the “cosmic and terrestrial rhythms” – otherwise known as biodynamie or biodynamism. What does that even mean? This past weekend we encountered this method again during yet another wine tasting but its significance still alludes me.
The Caves Ouvertes have been taking place annually since 1987, so if you didn’t get a chance to “Enjoy Moderately, [and] Love Passionately” (as their slogan suggests), you still have a chance to do so next May!