It has been our habit over many years to use Switzerland as our point of entry and departure when beginning and ending the twice-annual tours to visit our growers. In traversing the roads of Switzerland on our way to Alsace or to the Jura or to Burgundy or over the mountain-top of Mont Blanc to descend into Italy, we were intrigued by the sight of steeply terraced vineyards lining the shores of Lac Leman and the steep ascent from Martigny to Italy via the Grand Saint Bernard pass. It seemed that there must be good wine being produced there for the effort to plant and maintain vineyards in that forbidding terrain is immense.
For years the Swiss protected their market with steep tariffs. The local market was vibrant and demand strong. The producers met that demand by increasing yields and the quality of most Swiss wine was banal at best. Once the Swiss eliminated the barriers to competition, the response on the part of the serious growers was immediate: yields were severely restricted and local grape varieties that had been overlooked or abandoned because of their capricious nature were rediscovered.
We are convinced that there is enormous potential for greatness in Swiss wine. The growing conditions are ideal for our type of wine. The high altitude vineyards planted on glacial moraine to indigenous grape varieties is a divine formula. The fresh mountain air and the cool nights give birth to wines of precision with vibrant acidity and persistent minerality, elements that are critical in rendering wines expressive of their terroir. The local grapes in the Valais, like Amigne, Humagne and Cornalin, have character galore.
It was a natural progression for us to cross the high Alpine passes from the Valle d’Aosta in Italy to enter the world of the Valais in Switzerland. Let’s see where this journey takes us.