AUSTRIA and SWITZERLAND

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

We have been on the wine roads for almost 4 months now and have already reached the penultimate country of our journey: Austria!

The restrictions related to the pandemic in Hungary only allowed us to transit in less than 24 hours but we took the liberty of extending our stay by a few days. Fortunately, there is no one at the border to control us: long live Schengen!

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We arrive at night in the vineyards of the estate that we must visit the next day, only to discover our error when we wake up, and a peculiarity of the Swiss vineyard: all the wineries have the same name, and we are therefore more than one hour far from the right address!

This misadventure permits us to discover the magnificent landscapes of the west of this beautiful country, between the mountains and the coniferous forests. We enjoy every moment of these winter trips with Betty! Burgenland is the most eastern region of Austria and was, before 1920, part of the Hungarian lands. Its climate facilitates the formation of noble rot, at the origin of sweet whites. However, the area is particularly known for its balanced and concentrated reds.

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The small Austrian villages are illuminated by Christmas decorations, in a festive atmosphere. We discover the Blaufränkisch, a red grape variety that represents 5% of the vineyards of Austria, and that produces a wine full of freshness.

We spend a few days at a winemaker's place, warmly welcomed by her family who prepares us delicious small dishes. We are soothed by the simplicity of their lives and their closeness to nature.

In the early morning, Betty reveals to us her last surprise: a leak of the brake fluid! Time is running out in these last days of adventure, and we cannot afford to be behind schedule. Fortunately the garage, despite the high cost of the Austrian workforce, is very efficient!

The following vineyard makes us discover biodynamic: horns filled with manure and buried in the soil, herbal teas and lunar cycles, this philosophy is fascinating! The idea is to revitalize the soil and the vines with the help of natural preparations and the winemaker is delighted with the improvement of the wines which are more lively and vibrant!

After a karaoke party in the Betty, we head east towards the Tyrol region. Against all expectations, this region perched in the Alps and buried under the snow shelters a wine estate. Since their vines are located in the west of the country, these winegrowers transport the grape must to their cellar more than 5 hours away. Being the only producers in their area, they practice the deposit of bottles, and sell mainly on the local market. Their wines are excellent, and we are not disappointed to discover this nugget.

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Then we arrive in the last country of the trip, Switzerland. The road meanders through the valleys, and the mountains take shape over the brilliant blue sky, which is already tinged with pink in the middle of the afternoon, in these shortest days of the year. We park Betty on the shore of Zurich lake, in hillside vineyards, to unexpectedly ring the bell of a winery. The couple of winemakers welcome us with kindness and we spend a good evening by their side.

We take the opportunity to recharge the oil tank and reinflate the tyres to go to Valais, a region in the south-west of the country. The small roads offer magnificent panoramas. Between the small villages suspended on hills, overlooking a sea of clouds, the green and navy blue hues of the mountains in the horizon and the herds of quiet cows, we fill our eyes with all the wonders of these Swiss landscapes.

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Valais is known for its terraced vineyards and its wide range of grape varieties. Most of the wines are traditionally single-grape. We particularly liked the Petite Arvine, mineral and salty.

We go north to the Geneva lake, in the Vaud canton, land par excellence of the Chasselas. This little aromatic grape reflects the terroir and expresses the identity of each plot. This last stage is rich in emotion and it is already with nostalgia that we take the path back to Paris.

WOMEN IN WINE

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Silvia Heinrich

Talented and very hard-working, she decided to perpetuate the family tradition and took over her parents' estate in 2002. Today she is "The" great lady of Blaufränkisch. 

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Birgit Wiederstein

Always smiling and cheerful, for Birgit, wine, family and philosophy are one and the same. It is in her work that she finds her strength and fulfilment. 

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Judith Beck

She took over the family estate in 2004 and is committed to the conversion to biodynamic farming from 2007. She wishes to make her wines lively and vibrant and to respect the environment. 

Mathilde Roux 

Franco-Swiss, Mathilde moved to Fully in the Valais in 2016 to fulfil her childhood dream: to become a winegrower in her own right. At the Orlaya winery, she cultivates native grape varieties and puts her personality into her wines.  

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Marie-Thérèse Chappaz

Considered the "Swiss icon", Marie-Thérèse is a character! A pioneer of biodynamic viticulture in Switzerland, her terraced vineyards are impressive and the fine, elegant wines can be enjoyed without moderation. 

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Laura Paccot

Young, sparkling and natural, Laura is the new Swiss Dove! With a lot of intelligence and optimism, she is not short of resources to face environmental issues.  

Theres Bachmann

A talented former hairdresser, Thérèse traded her salon for the cellar and changed her vocation with her husband Jonathan. They now produce excellent wines on the heights of Zurich Lake. 

And a big thank you to the Waltschek family for discovering their unique vineyard in Tyrol and their warm welcome.