12 underrated wine regions to visit this fall, according to experts
Characterized by high altitudes, sunny days, and famous wine neighbors like France, Germany, and Italy, it’s no surprise that Switzerland reigns supreme in the region to know category. “To me, this is one of the most amazing countries to visit for wine – from the French-speaking cantons of Valais and Vaud to the German-speaking cantons of Graubünden and Thurgau, to southern Italian Ticino – there are a breathtaking range of styles crafted with incredible precision,” says Victoria James, sommelier and director of COTE Beverage. She notes that the country is lucky in the sense that it doesn’t particularly like need to be exported, which means that their wines are less known outside their borders. “I remember when I was studying for my sommelier exams, the chapter on Switzerland was under one paragraph!” Jack remembers.
Part of the reason for the region’s wine-growing suitability is its unique climate. “For example, the Valais region receives an average of 2,100 hours of sunshine per year, while the sunniest region of France (Alsace) receives 1,800 hours of sunshine,” explains James. “As a result, the wines always strike me as jovial as a Swiss farmer picking wildflowers from the hills – a ton of ripeness, juiciness, freshness and a scent of alpine herbs.” The Bowery Group’s Director of Wines, Natascha Patterer, highlights the region’s impressive sustainability efforts. “In recent years, the Swiss viticulture industry has started experimenting with underutilized cultivars and unique new biodynamic practices as a way to adapt to climate change,” she says. “A region that was once too cold is now among the innovators for climate research in the wine industry.”
While in Switzerland, Patterer advises taking the Golden Pass Railway to get around and see the spectacular terraced slopes of Lavaux, a sight and UNESCO World Heritage Site that overlooks Lake Geneva. His favorite vineyards for tastings include Domaine de Colombe, Domaine Louis Bovard, Domaine De La Crausaz and Domaine De Maison Blanche. And dairy lovers, take note: “Switzerland is a wine and food lover’s paradise, so be sure to visit the cheese cellars when you’re there, such as the Alpine classics L’Etivaz, Tête de Monks, Appenzeller and Gruyere”, James suggests. (His winery choices also include Cave Caloz, Serge Roh, Cave du Vieux-Moulin, Cave des Tilleuls, among others.)