Graubuenden Wine Trail
Yes, it is possible to go for a long hike in Switzerland without feeling like a mountain-climbing ibex. In fact, you can even enjoy a few glasses of excellent wine along the way.
The Graubünden wine trail follows the Rhine valley from Chur to Fläsch. The well-marked trail guides you through the busy wine region (and the heart of Heidiland), moving from one small village to another while passing in front of spectacular rock walls and many of the region’s innovative wineries. You can begin anywhere you like and decide for yourself which villages to visit. Switzerland’s superb public transportation system will assure that you will never be far away from a bus or train station…so you can confidently enjoy a good sampling of wine without worrying about driving.
The vineyards of the Rhine valley make up the majority of the Canton’s viticulture surface. The heart of the wine-producing area forms the area known as the ‘Herrschaft,’ which includes the villages of Fläsch, Maienfeld, Jenins and Malans. Further to the south, the villages of Zizers, Trimmis and Chur make up the remaining portion of Rhine valley wine area.
Each weekend from June until the end of October, at least one winery in each village is open for wine tastings, which are mostly free or modestly priced. There are also plenty of local festivals, which offer samplings of regional wines and culinary specialties. There’s even an international horse racing event in the village of Maienfeld during mid-October.
Winery visits are not limited to special events. Many local wineries are also open Saturdays for visits, tastings and direct purchasing. It is an excellent opportunity to discover some unique Swiss wines, which are otherwise difficult to sample or purchase. It is also a great chance to get to know some producers. We are always telling those interested in finding out more about Swiss wines that it is vitally important to get to know producers in Switzerland, primarily because the Swiss Appellation system is not a reliable designation for quality – a table wine from one producer can be far more superior to the AOC wine produced right next door.
Purchasing wine direct from the producer is usually quite simple…and don’t worry, you won’t have to haul that wine around with you as you continue hiking. Either ask the producer to send the wine to you via post or simply return a bit later after your hike and pick up the wine yourself. Most shipping charges are around CHF 18 for twelve bottles.
Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir) dominates as the grape variety of choice in the Rhine Valley. Over 80% of all grapes are of this variety. Most producers in the area make two different styles of pinot noir wine. One version is very light and fruity, has not been aged in wood and best enjoyed young. The other style is much greater in complexity, has been aged in wood and can be stored 7-10 years if it is well made. There are many excellent producers in the region, so it won’t be difficult to find your favorite. One producer we enjoy is Jann and Sarah Marugg. There winery is open on the 6th and 7th of September in Fläsch.
Other grape varieties grown in the area are Riesling-Sylvaner (Müller-Thurgau), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Sauvignon Blanc. Of particular note, the white grape variety Completer is quite interesting and only found in this region. It is a very old variety, which is quite aromatic and slightly nutty. The Completer grapes were known to the region since the early tenth century.
A very nice list of all of the region’s producers exists in the official Graubünden Wine web site. Just follow the ‘Produkt’ link for maps and more information.
Visit our own web site if you would like to read more about Swiss wine.