Chardonne Open Cellar Day and the Jura

Andrew and I spent this past weekend doing a couple of our favorite pastimes: wine tasting and hiking!

On Saturday, we had signed up with an expat club, InterNations, to attend an open cellar day in the village of Chardonne in Lavaux.


So for a little background, Lavaux is a terraced wine region in Switzerland stretching some 30 km along Lac Léman between Lausanne and Montreux. When we first moved to Switzerland we were super excited to live near a wine region because we loved being able to go wine tasting when we lived in SF. Family and friends who have followed us for a little while may remember my blog post from July when we first arrived in CH and we walked through the wine terraces from St. Saphorin to Epesses? Well, that is when we figured out that the typical U.S. wine tasting experience entailing visiting a vineyard and sampling a flight of wines at a nice tasting bar during common open hours of about 10-4 or 5, is not the norm here. These vineyards are for the most part family businesses and they are not open to the public every day. Most are only available if you make a group reservation, except for special events. There are a few wine bars spread out among the villages that offer local wines, but that’s all we encountered. So, when we heard an open cellar day in Chardonne was scheduled for this past weekend, we jumped at the opportunity to see what wine tasting in Switzerland is all about.

The event was an awesome deal. The village wineries opened their cellars to the public for tasting their local wines. For CHF 15, we got a glass (to keep!) and were able to go to any of the wineries in Chardonne for unlimited samples. This even included, randomly, soups at some of them and crackers or pretzels. Every vineyard also had vendors available selling things like pizza, local cheeses and a few even had live music. Overall, a very different experience then what I have done in the U.S. but such an enjoyable way to spend the day.

Our second stop of the day at Maurice Neyroud in the village of Chardonne. Here, the photo shows the patio seating. The “tasting room” was literally their basement cellar where they store some of the wine. No frills but the view was stunning and the wine was perfect!
Our stop in the village downtown was completed by a visit from an alpenhorn group. The minute these guys showed up, I could not contain my excitement! I always imagined if you played one of these instruments it was required to wear a dirndl or lederhosen and to sit on a grassy hillside in the Alps, but I’ll take what I can get. Swiss experience complete! 


Andrew sitting at one of our snack stops along the way, where a local ski club was selling raclette as a fundraiser. Also shows a sample of our view from throughout the day overlooking the Swiss Alps and Lac Léman. Not too shabby, eh?
At one of the caveaus with some new friends from the InterNations club

On Sunday we headed for the mountains to hike to the Creux du Van, a rocky cliff in a semi-circular shape created by natural water erosion from a local glacier that was linked to the Rhone glacier, causing land slides in this shape (thanks Wikipedia!). It’s a top destination in the area, and our first time visiting the Jura, which is the mountain range in the north which runs along the length of the country’s borders with France and Germany. While not as dramatic as the Alps, the Jura were beautiful in their own way, and reminded me a bit of the mountains at home in Virginia that I grew up hiking, with their gentle slopes and many rocky outcroppings and cliffs.