This coming Saturday, May 28, Geneva’s 90+ wineries open their doors to introduce the newest vintages during the annual Caves Ouvertes (“Open Cellars”) from 10:00 until 18:00. 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 public transportation between some vineyards. The slogan of Caves Ouvertes is “Moderately Savor, Passionately Love”, 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.
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: The safest way to visit the wineries is by the free busses put in place by the TPG from 10:00 until 17:30. For information about the frequency and routes, click here. NOTE: Even though the navettes are free, you will still need a valid ticket to travel by bus, train, or tram to the starting point of the shuttle bus route.
Cost: Entrance to the wineries is free. A tasting glass costs CHF 10, 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 CHF 5-15.
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)
What is your favorite part of Caves Ouvertes? Do you have any tips or tricks to make the most of the day?
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For some reason, I never seem to be able to make it to one of these events – same goes for this weekend. 😦 I sure wish they would do the open-house concept a lot more often!
I think I have been twice in my 16 years which is ridiculous considering I live biking distance from about 8 domaines. So this year I forced my husband to go with me. I am not sure if I am becoming more Swiss or the producers are becoming competitive but surprisingly there were some really good wines on Rive Gauche.