Something that I have learnt about Switzerland over the years is that you really need to do your research to find the hidden gems in each canton, town and/or village. The locals, and by locals I mean the Swiss, know what is happening. I’ve been trying to immerse myself in traditions that are specific to certain places in the country to get a taste of what is out there. Most of the events are not advertised enough for expats and international residents. We are really missing out on what is out there in the country. I was lucky one weekend and discovered that there was a ‘La Balade Gourmande’ (a Gourmet Walk) in Mont-sur-Rolle. I had just missed out on the Caves Ouvertes (Open Cellars) and stumbled on this when I was looking for others. I asked a friend to join me and we set off on an adventure.
What is La Balade Gourmande?
La Balade Gourmande is a gourmet walk through a vineyard. You have the opportunity to taste wine, which has been made with a variety of grapes, grown by more than 20 winegrowers. The vineyard that we visited is in Mont-Sur-Rolle, which is close to Geneva. From the vineyards, we had a panoramic view of the Alpine range between Geneva and Mont-Blanc. The vineyard itself was over 250 hectares, we were able to see the different types grapes grown there. The main variety of grape found there, Chasselas, was planted in the 12th Century by monks from Burgundy. I’m not a wine connoisseur, but from the information they provided us, this grape is very rich in your mouth, and can be distinguished by the minerals and sweet flavours that are unique to the location of the vines. Not only did they serve us over 13 different types of wine, but also, provided us with a seven-course meal throughout the walk.
How To Get There
If you are coming from Lausanne, you can take a train from Lausanne gare and take the regional train to Rolle. From Rolle, gare Nord, you take bus 840 to the stop called Maison de Ville and you will reach the Caveau de Mont-Sur Rolle. If you are coming from Geneva, Zurich or any location, you can follow the same guide to get there.
Who can attend?
All adults (16 and above) can attend. Some people did bring their children along and they were given fruit juices and water instead of the wines. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend bringing children along because it is a lot of walking and there is nothing there to keep young children entertained. If you have younger children, I would wait for more child-friendly events in the earlier autumn.
Due to covid restrictions, it was necessary to register via email. There is an email address on the website to register for the event. The event cost 70 CHF, which was a bargain in my opinion, for the wines, the food that they provided, your own wine glass and wine glass bag. Masks were not mandatory as it was outside but for the indoor locations, you had to wear a mask. Covid certificates were not needed either but I took mine with me just in case.
It was a 5-7km walk that was supposed to be around 1hr 30 minutes but we were pretty much there for the whole day. The weather was beautiful and warm that day. At each stop, we were served food that was either local to the region or Swiss traditional dishes. The vineyards paths ran through hamlets of the municipality of Mont-Sur-Rolle and we walked past lots of historical monuments from different eras. I would say it was more of a historical gourmet walk. We met a couple that came all the way from Zurich for this walk and Zurich is about 2hrs 45 minutes away by train. The husband had been coming to this walk for the last seven years and how it’s more enjoyable each year. It was really great to interact with other people, learn more about their experience on the walk and learn more about the wines and food that we had.
From the moment we got there, we served a white wine and some breadsticks. I had lost count after the 9th glass of wine that had served us but from the leaflet that they gave us at the initial stop, we had tried 13 different types of wine grown in the vineyards. We tasted a selection of red and white wines, as well as rosé. At each stop, they presented a different type of wine for you. The key is to not finish your wine until you leave that stop. If you finish your wine, it’s a sign that you want more and they will just top it up. At the last stop, you have the opportunity to buy any of the wines that you had tried. I bought ‘Château de Mont Grand Cru’ which is a 2020 moscato wine. The Château de Mont was built by barons in the 15th century and it is oldest wine that can be found in the region. I remember liking the taste of the wine along with the dessert that the gave us because it really brought out the distinct taste of the tarte and it wasn’t overpowering.
Here are the types of wines that we tried:
- Chasselas ‘Haute-Cour’ by Luc Pellet
- Un gouleyant chasselas 2020 ‘Clos sus L’Abbaye’ by Laurent Blondel
- Pinot Noir, Domaine de Bellevue by Laurent Munier
- Chasselas ‘cuvée Hommage 1958’ by Quentin Gallay
- Chasselas, Domaine de Maison Blanche by Yves de Mestral
- Chardonnay de la Cave de Mont-le-Grand by Marc Antoine Monnard
- Le Plan Robert du Domaine de Autecour 2018
- Merlot Diolinoir du Domaine Au Point du Jour by Eric Durand
- Le Gamaret barrique du Domaine des Chantailles by Jean-François Déruaz
- Le Chasselas Gam’motes 2018 (white wine) by Cédric Albiez
- L’Assemblage rouge ‘Arabesque’ de Raymond Dufour
- Chasselas vielles vignes 2006 ‘Dames de Hautecour’ by Coraline de Wurstemberger
- Muscat 2019 du Château de Mont by the Naef family.
For the foods, we were given something local to the area or a Swiss traditional dish. I enjoyed the dishes and my favourite one, other than filet de perch meunière, was the spätzli. These are not dishes that I would have gravitated to at a restaurant so it was great that I had the opportunity to eat them during this gourmet walk. I have listed the foods below:
- Taillé aux greubons (puff pastry with some lard)
- La soupe froide de salsifis aux noisettes (a cold soup with a hazelnut purée)
- Filet de perche meunière aves des frites (fish and chips)
- Un civet de marcassin avec spätzli et de choux rouges (wild boar stew with a German noodle and red cabbage)
- Gruyère salé (Salty Gruyère cheese)
- Fromage de Gimelan aux herbes by Kevin Gay
- Fromage de chèvre (Goat cheese)
- Tarte aux pommes et la crème cannelle (apple tarte with cinnamon cream)
- Teas and coffees to end the walk.
That was my day adventure to the region of Mont-sur-Rolle. I cannot wait to go again next year. It was good to do something different and see what the locals enjoy doing in Switzerland. I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground so I can do more activities this autumn such as apple picking and visiting pumpkin patches. If you are looking for unique activities to do in Switzerland, I would check out the tourism websites in the areas that you either live in or want to visit to plan out your weekends. Switzerland has a lot to offer but they keep it very hidden. I hope this post has piqued your interest into this Alpine country. If you have been to other events, walk or experiences in Switzerland, please feel free to share them below. Check out my Idea Pin for the full experience!
Until next time,