For oenophiles (and everyday wine lovers like you and me), it's a once in a generation opportunity to celebrate the wines of a country you might not even associate with viticulture.
The Fete des Vignerons (Festival of Vintners or Winegrowers) is held only every 20-25 years, taking over the town of Vevey on Lake Geneva.
Yes, Switzerland. The Swiss call their wines one of their best-kept secrets. They are some of the best wines in the world – even if you've never heard of or tried them. Nearby Vevey are the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces growing one of the country's treasured appellations and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Fete des Vignerons has been orchestrated by the local 'Brotherhood of Winemakers' since the 1700's to celebrate the local wines and especially the winegrowers whose love and labor deliver wines to the tables of households and restaurants of Switzerland. 2019's festival marks only the 12th festival – truly a once-in-a generation event.
Artist's Rendering of the 2019 Arena, courtesy of Fete des Vignerons 2019
The festival kicks off mid-July in a 20,000-seat stadium built just for the event in the town's immense, historic market square, with a Coronation Ceremony developed by a producer with Cirque du Soleil and Olympic closing ceremony credentials. No wonder the Fete des Vignerons takes a quarter of a century to organize. The festival also has UNESCO designation, on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the world.
The ceremony is designed to 'praise and distinguish the best winemakers' of the area, with winning winemakers receiving astonishing, once-in-a-career recognition. And it pays homage to centuries of wine-making and cultural traditions with over 6000 actors, musicians and singers. One of the highlights is a song firmly associated with the Festival, the Ranz des Vaches, a centuries-old song used by herdsmen to call their cattle in the Alps where the regions vines also grow.
Following the launch Coronation Ceremony, the show is performed 19 additional times over the course of the 3-week festival ending in early August. The area in Vevey surrounding the stadium is only open to pedestrians for the duration, and houses 10 more stages, dozens of local food and wine stands, pop –up restaurants seating hundreds and a lakeside terrace/rooftop area where you can sip wine and taste local cuisine with views of the lake and mountains.
There's even a wine made just for the festival. Half a million bottles of exclusive festival vintages of red and white wines will be on hand for the highlight of the Swiss summer season.
If you miss the 2019 Fete des Vignerons, you don't have to wait decades to enjoy Swiss wines. Any visit to Switzerland should include the UNESCO Lavaux terraces as well as famous Valais and Vaud wine regions, wine routes and wine hiking and biking trails. You can learn more about Switzerland's wines and wine regions at www.myswitzerland.com/en/wine
Top image courtesy MySwitzerland.com
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