Spring beckons! Which in Switzerland triggers not only tulips and Alpine bellflowers to open invitingly but also the nation's large variety of wineries. During regional Open Cellar holidays in May, wineries typically closed to the public throw cellar doors wide for tours, tips & tastes!
Offene Weinkeller Deutschschweiz, 1 May (Tue) & 5-6 May (Sat-Sun)
No lame work excuses for Zürich-area residents to miss the party: it’s on the May 1st holiday and following weekend. Wineries throughout German-speaking Switzerland open for tastings, often with local food. Did you know there's a thriving boutique wine industry on the Zürisee? Grab a train to Meilen or Stäfa (Zürich’s vineyard hubs), Schaffhausen or Fläsch (in Graubünden) and explore!
Uncorked Tip: Jump the S6 or S7 to Uetikon, then walk uphill to see Weingut Erich Meier in a comfortable modern tasting room with a non-traditonal wine selection. Prepare for a friendly crowd ;-)
Caves Ouvertes des Vins du Valais, 10-12 May (Thu-Sat)
On Ascension Day (Himmelfahrt) weekend, head south to the ‘California of Switzerland’, a gorgeous large valley with almost guaranteed sunshine—meaning (relatively) ripe, fruity wines. Try the local unique grapes: elegant favorite white Petite Arvine, full-bodied, tropical Heida from Europe's highest vineyards and red berryi-ish quaffer Humagne Rouge. Light red Pinot Noirs also abound.
Cantine Aperte, Canton Ticino, 19-20 May (Sat-Sun)
Who can imagine a more idyllic wine tasting setting than gazing at sun-drenched hillsides over Lake Lugano? Over 50 cantine ("caves") in Ticino offer their selection from local specialty Merlot grapes in both red and white wine styles; wineries however are spread about and often downright difficult to reach via public transportation.
Uncorked Tip: Drop any grand plans and go for ambience. From Lugano station, wander down towards the lake, then follow the music to find the central plaza celebration. Order a red and risotto and... la vita è bella!
Caves Ouvertes Vaudoises, 19-20 May (Sat-Sun)
Don’t forget lovely canton Vaud, whose lucky vines wake daily to stunning Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva views. SFr. 20.- earns you entrance to over 300 cellars (includes tasting glass and shuttles). Expect delicate whites from the local Chasselas grape, but named by the producing village: Aigle, Epesses, St. Saphorin, etc. Connoisseurs take great pride noting subtle flavor changes between different village terroirs, sort of translated as "soils, exposures, and other growing conditions".
Uncorked Tip: Pay at your first winery stop, you're good to go. We like stunning views on the wander from Lutry-Chexbres-St. Saphorin-Vevey.