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UPDATE: Looking for information about Caves Ouvertes on May 24, 2014? Click here for our latest post! 

This coming Saturday, 25 May, Geneva’s 90+ wineries open their doors to introduce the 2012 vintages during the annual Caves Ouvertes (“Open Cellars”). It’s a day devoted to celebration, community, and of course plenty of wine tasting!

The first Caves Ouvertes took place in Geneva in 1987. In the ensuing years, the event has expanded to include family entertainment, live music, and free transportation between some vineyards. The slogan of Caves Ouvertes is “Enjoy Moderately, Love Passionately”, a sentiment visitors will find at wineries throughout the area.

The history of winemaking in the region dates back more than 2000 years, to Roman times. Today, Geneva is the third-largest wine producing canton of Switzerland (only Vaud and Valais produce more wine), with more than 1400 hectares devoted to vineyards that produce more than 11 million liters of wine each year (source).  Some of the grapes grown in Geneva’s vineyards include Chasselas, Aligoté, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Viognier, Gamay, and more. You can read more about Geneva’s cépages here.

Caves Ouvertes tasting glass. Photo Credit: Vins-geneve.ch

Caves Ouvertes tasting glass. Photo Credit: Vins-geneve.ch

Where to visit: Wineries are scattered throughout the canton of Geneva, but there are three main areas to celebrate Caves Ouvertes. On rive droite, Dardagny, Russin, and Satigny (the area known as “Le Mandement”) attract the largest crowds. Also on rive droite, you’ll find many wineries in and around Bernex, Lully, and Laconnex (between the Arve and Rhône). To escape the crowds, consider heading to rive gauche where you’ll find several wineries in the area of Gy, Jussy, Anières, and Vandoeuvres (between the Arve and Lac Leman). Locate Geneva’s wineries by clicking here or here.

Transport: You can navigate the day by car, bike, or public transportation. One of the easiest (and safest, if you plan on having a few glasses of wine!) ways to get around is on a free navette (shuttle bus). The TPG runs free shuttle buses on both sides of the lake from 10h00 until 19h00 on Saturday, May the 25th. More information about the navettes, including route maps, is available by clicking here. NOTE: Even though the navettes are free, you will still need a valid ticket to travel by bus, train, or tram to the start of the shuttle bus route.

Cost: Entrance to the wineries is free. A tasting glass costs 5 CHF, which you can use all day and take home as a keepsake. Many wineries offer bread and cheese free of charge when you’re tasting wine; more substantial fare like sausages or raclette will cost 5-15 CHF.

Tip: If you plan on buying any wine, be sure to bring along a backpack or trolley to tote home your purchases. Also, consider bookmarking these sites on your smartphone before heading out for the day: www.tpg.ch  (public transportation in Geneva)
www.cff.ch/geneve (train schedules for Geneva)
www.geneveterroir.ch (homepage

What is your favorite part of Caves Ouvertes? Do you have any tips or tricks to make the most of the day? 

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/