Blog - swiss wine

Silvia’s Wine Adventure – Part III (.5)

by Silvia
September 1, 2009


In this next account to Silvia’s season long wine adventure, she reports on the status of her vines after being away on vacation…

read part I ¦ read part II ¦ read part III

I missed the last lecture in Malans at the end of June…but hey, everyone needs a vacation…

We headed out during the last part of July to go check on my vines, and to see what had changed since my last visit. I expected to see fully grown vine branches with abundant grape bunches hanging below the leaves…especially after doing such a fine job in May of stripping away so many leaves from the young vine shoots.

I wasn’t disappointed.

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Silvia’s Wine Adventure – Part III

by Silvia
July 29, 2009


In this third part to Silvia’s season long wine adventure, she reports on the status of her vines, what she learned about vine maintenance and how to plant new grapes. read part I ¦ read part II

Spring finally arrived.

When the rain weather travels from the west toward Graubünden, there is a good chance the rain drops will never fall in Malans…or at least wait until the evening. This is the typical weather pattern in the Bündner Herrschaft and for once the weather did what was expected. Even though rain covered most of Switzerland, we were able to enjoy the warm spring sun.

A quick inspection of the vineyard told me what I needed to immediately know – our vines made it through the winter…and I did too. The vines looked strong and full of growth. The year’s early spring weather caused the vines to bud early, but the subsequent cold weather caused everything to return to normal by mid-May. But even so, some growers have compared the 2009 crop with 2003 and 2007, when everything was early.

As I walked the vineyard and came upon my row of vines, I noticed the few branches on each vine grew into bushes. There were also many little grape bunches visible…a joy to see.

Letting nature do what it wants means losing control of the vines and giving enemies a chance to attack. So after pruning and selecting two branches per vine in the winter, then binding them to the wire at the end of winter, it is now time to keep the vine’s new growth under control.     read more

Silvia’s Wine Adventure – Part II

by Silvia
May 11, 2009


In this second part to Silvia’s season long wine adventure, she reports on the status of her vines and how she learned to properly tie grape vines using a wire system. read part I

It was the middle of March and it was cold – very cold! I spent the day wondering where that hair dryer wind called the Föhn was when I really needed it?

Almost one month had past since my first introduction to the vines I would call my own for the year. I pruned away all of the unnecessary branches left from last year and readied my vines for a fresh start to 2009. The deep snow I encountered in February was gone, but I was faced with a new weather challenge, which made my work in the vines even colder – an icy arctic wind!

We spent the first ninety minutes in relative comfort learning all about lovely aphids, fungus and other ugly wine enemies. Then, it was time to face my vineyard row and accomplish the day’s task of bending the pruned grape branches and binding them onto the lowest wire. This system of keeping the branches horizontal and tied to a wire makes subsequent tasks during the year much easier – and safer for the vines. Need rows will allow a tractor to easily travel between the vines without hurting any branches or new growth.    read more

Silvia’s Wine Adventure – Part I

by Silvia
March 13, 2009


Ever wonder what’s involved in growing grapes to produce wine? Silvia has. She has enrolled in a class this year, which teaches students the practical, hands-on side of growing grapes. This multi-part posting began in February with some basic pruning and goes on throughout the year until the fall harvest.

Pruning vines is one of the most important tasks of a vintner during the year. It is the foundational work for the upcoming growing season and subsequent harvest.

Vineyards can look a bit on the shaggy side by winter’s end– sort of like Struwwelpeter who desperately needs a haircut. In the same way, vines also need a trim…and the trick is to prune the correct branches in order to make weak vines stronger and stronger vines a bit…well…less strong. Of course, the goal of all of this pruning is to make the wine maker’s tasks easier while managing grape yield and vintage quality.

And so on, and so on… All of this and more I learned while studying for my WSET diploma. I even had to learn which hormone in the root system gives the vine a kick start after the soil temperature rises above 10 degrees centigrade. Yes, I know quite a bit about wine and how wine is made…but, that’s all theory, and now it’s time to move over to the practical side…   read more

Suuser Festivals

by Silvia
October 6, 2008

red grapes

Suuser festivals celebrate the first product from this year’s grape harvest!

Suuser is partially fermented grape juice, and it is the first chance to grab a taste of this year’s harvest.

Suuser – or also referred to as sauser – is fruity and sweet, with a refreshing acidity and appealing fizz. It is mostly foggy in appearance, but don’t let that put you off. The cloudy look is simply the result of the juice not being filtered before its bottled.

The best suuser is sold unpasteurized, which means the juice is still in active fermentation mode. This explains why the bottles are merely covered and not completely closed. During the fermentation process, yeasts produce carbon dioxide gases, which must somehow escape the confines of a bottle. If the bottle was completely closed, then the pressure from the mounting gasses would eventually cause a rather devastating explosion. Needless to say, it is best to use a bit of caution when keeping your suuser in the refrigerator – make sure to keep the top loosely covered!

The first suuser makes its way to Switzerland from Italy, where the grapes are harvested earlier than Switzerland. The Italian suuser are made from red grapes, and they are only available for about one month. The alcohol level seldom goes over the 2% level. It is a very light and fruity drink…and a great way to get rid of some of the world’s annual surplus of wine.

The traditional October suuser season is quite a tradition in Eastern Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Each country produces and sells their own variety of sauser (called Federweisser in Germany and Sturm in Austria), which usually involve some sort of festival. read more

Wine Tasting on Lake Zuerich

by Silvia
September 7, 2008


Weinpavillon 2008 in Obermeilen on the 13th and 14th of September 2008

The term terroir is frequently brought up within the world of wine, and talked about as if it were the great mysterious secret in defining wine. Everyone uses the term a bit differently, which only feeds its aura. You’ve probably heard it before when listening to wine experts explaining the subtle characteristics of a particular wine, ‘oh yes, the terroir of this vineyard has left a lasting mineral note laced with slate and chalky soil underneath the layers of complex fruit hidden between fine floral notes with just the right touch of French oak.’

Yes, terroir is a great term to use when you want to impress wine drinkers with less knowledge, and this little show is often fully displayed during public wine tastings.

So what does all this have to do with the upcoming Lake Zürich wine tasting?  read more

Graubuenden Wine Trail

by Silvia
August 16, 2008


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.  read more


First of May Winery Visits

by Silvia
April 20, 2008


If you find yourself in the region around Zürich on the first of May and would like to try something new, then consider visiting a local winery.  For one day, over 130 wineries in the Cantons of Aargau, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, Zürich…and new this year…St. Gallen and Schwyz around the Zürich Lake, will open their doors and invite visitors to taste wines and have a walk around the winery.  Most of these wineries will offer a selection of food…usually involving a grill…to be enjoyed with a glass or two of their locally produced wine.  In some cases, local farmers will even offer a taste of some locally raised beef.  Wine visits and tastings are always free, although some of the wineries will charge a nominal fee for the food.  Tastings and visits run from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm, and many of the wineries will be happy to sell their wines directly.  This increasingly popular event is a great opportunity to discover some wines which are rarely available in many wine shops.

Here are a few ideas to consider in planning your day…

1. Visit your favorite winery and fill up your private cellar.
2. Select a small wine region and walk or drive from winery to winery to learn more about the region’s wines.
3. Pick a grape variety and visit several wineries in several regions to get to know the differences.
4. Combine a wine tour with a hike.  There are very nice hikes to consider around Eglisau, Hallau and Oberhallau in Canton Schaffhausen, between Stäfa and Männedorf near the lake of Zürich, and the wine region north of Frauenfeld.

You can find out more about this event and get listings of all participating wineries by visiting the official website.

You can find out more about Swiss wine and their grape varieties in the Laughing Lemon web site

Austrian and Swiss Wine Tasting Event

by Silvia
March 19, 2008

It seems Austria and Switzerland are sharing quite a lot this year.  On Sunday and Monday, the 30th and 31st of March, there will be a great opportunity to taste some of the finest Austrian and Swiss wines at the Kongresshaus in Zürich.  The tasting is open both days from 1pm until 7pm.  Registration is free, but you have to fill out a form first and send it in to gain entrance.

This large Austrian wine tasting event takes place each year in Zürich, but this year there is the added bonus of tasting some of Switzerland’s premier wines from producers which are not easily found…but definitely worth trying.

We recommend adopting one of the following four strategies to optimize your time and experience: read more

First Release of Swiss Wines

by Silvia
March 3, 2008

That’s right!  The first of the 2007 Swiss wines have been released!

Canton Neuchâtel in the western part of Switzerland always releases the year’s first wines, the Neuchâtel Blanc Non Filtré.  The non filtré is a white wine made from the Chasselas grape variety.  It is always released on the third Wednesday in January at an official tasting in the city’s town hall.  This unusual and surprisingly refreshing wine has only been commercialized for eleven years.  Earlier, the wine was something like an insider secret.  Today, the wine is increasing in stature and definitely worth a try.

The wine is bottled without filtering the yeast, which creates a noticeable white deposit on the bottom of the bottle.  The yeast plays an important role by maintaining the wine’s freshness.  Shaking the bottle before opening will turn the wine foggy and enhance the flavor of the wine – an act that is encouraged!  As the wine hits your mouth, you should notice a slight, but definite fizziness on the tip of your tongue.  The freshness is dominated by citrus fruits, and a pleasant flavor of yeast.  The wine’s acidity is rather pronounced for Swiss palates, meaning there is a bit more zing in this wine than a typical Chasselas.  read more