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The Association Vinicole – 100 Years of Swiss Wine Making

As I walked down a cobbled street in the petite Swiss village of Corseaux, I didn’t know what to expect of my destination. I had passed by the unassuming front of the Association Vinicole a few times over the last couple of weeks; a little display case with a few bottles of wine, steps leading to a door that always remained closed – no peeking, three barn-like doors on one side with French written on it, but what always caught my eye were a wine barrel for sale with a vintage grape picking basket hanging on top of it in one corner. For someone who adores antiquities, the scratches and marks on the grape-picking basket were romantically fascinating.

As I approached the entrance, I found my friend, Jeanne, and her father, Mr. Delapraz, waiting. Coming from a family that had cultivated vineyards in the village for over 150 years, they have always been participants in the region’s wine culture. I was already aware of the pride they have for the wine, but it was during my stay, I realized that it went a lot deeper as they had worked or volunteered to help the Association in many ways, whenever possible.

So strong are the bonds they share with the region that I dared not test them. I did however come close when a few days earlier, at the nearby Château de Chillon, I had picked up a bottle of their locally produced wine – this is a region barely 15 minutes away from Corseaux – and Jeanne had sneaked up behind and startled me by saying, “You’d better not drink that in my house.” She’s playing with me I thought. But, soon enough, as I stared at her dead serious face, my laughter subsided into a giggle, then a smirk, and finally an expression of anxiety. Suddenly the Clos de Chillion bottle of Red I had in my hand felt heavier and my knees weaker. Some sense prevailed, and like a good little boy, I placed the bottle back from where I had picked it.

grape-pickers-basketI consider myself to be very lucky to have had the opportunity to experience wine from the region of Lavaux, especially Corseaux, because the more I talk to travelers who have visited Switzerland I realize that this region of vineyard terraces is often overlooked and still to an extent undiscovered.

For a food and drink enthusiast like myself, this moment was more than just a revelation but also a crash course in how distinct wine production is across the world and that certain regions still remain humble and not overly commercial.

While the French might evoke romance when it comes to wine, Californian and Australian wines are the new kids on the block that have made wine culture hip, and every other country – including my very own, India – claims to be the next big thing, Swiss wines have subtly and secretly, pleased and sometimes surprised many wine drinkers, both amateurs and connoisseurs.

The primary reason for this subtlety is that the wine is produced in limited quantities and as a result a lot of it is consumed locally, within the country, and in some cases within the region, leaving next to none for export. The other reason being that the industry is still homegrown with individuals and locals working together to produce the wine, having tight budgets to promote or even advertise, unlike some of the bigger wine producing nations. Swiss wine isn’t cheap – it’s not inordinately expensive either – but with labor costs in Switzerland being high and while the terraced vineyards give both direct and reflected sunshine on the developing grapes, the terraces greatly restrict the amount of mechanization.


On the one hand, the low volume of sales is hard on the manufacturers and the vineyard owners, but for a consumer, that makes the wine a limited edition and thus all the more special.

I had been receiving snippets of information from Mr. Delapraz whenever we’d had a chance to meet earlier in the week, but today was special as Jeanne and her father gave me a first class private tour of the workings of the Vinicole and, of course, a sublime wine tasting like no other, afterwards.

The Vinicole opens up onto a small reception area, stacked with wine bottles along the walls and a few barrels on one side with a cute little display in the middle. I would imagine that this is the equivalent of a wine lover’s toy store in heaven.

Mr. Delapraz started the tour by taking us from one room to another highlighting the process of wine making – vinification – from the beginning, when grapes are brought in to be separated and gently squeezed  – under controlled pressure – until the fermentation process. It is a lot more scientific in nature and quite unlike the squashing of the grapes in barrels by stamping on them that we’ve often seen in photos and movies.


As we walked around, Mr. Delapraz continued to share episodes about life in Corseaux and wine manufacturing with stories that were equally informative as they were fascinating. He didn’t shy away from divulging some “secrets” like about one of the bestsellers – Triade – which is made from three types of red grapes – Gamaret, Garanoir, Diolinoir. These three vine varieties were developed in Switzerland in the 1970’s, mainly to give color to Pinot Noir and Gamay. As luck would have it, they proved to be quite good either alone or as a blend of grape varieties. In Corseaux, each of this variety is fermented and put into oak barrels separately for a full year. Then the oenologist blends them to maintain the personality of the Triade from one year to the next. The percentage of each variety used in the final product is a well-kept secret – Okay, so I didn’t get my hands on all the secrets.

The oak barrels are imported from France and only used for 3 years as the oak taste eventually fades, after which they are sold at a very cheap price, as the one I saw outside the main door – If only I didn’t have to pay airline baggage weight, I would have happily carried it home with me.

Another aspect of wine culture in the province that emerged time and again was the continuous importance given to working together as a community and if the harvest isn’t good some year, then it’s not only about covering the losses but making sure no one down the line, from the grape pickers to the Association, is left hanging.

That is also one reason why the Association has stood the test of time and celebrated 100 years of existence in 2016, which in this day an age is by all means a huge achievement.

Mr. Delapraz continued the tour non-stop with genuine and sometimes animated enthusiasm discussing wine, his passion evident. During this hearty conversation I was allowed to be a novice and ask any questions that popped into my mind, no matter how simple or stupid – most were of the latter category.


I was so busy listening and trying to take in all the different aspects of wine making, that I didn’t even realize when we took a turn and went down some steps, into a room that had floor to ceiling casks. My eyes widened in amazement.

I take back what I wrote earlier because THIS is probably what wine heaven looks like; tanks and tanks full of wine all around me, a deep smell of wine lingering in the air, tickling my nostrils – a night here would be intoxicating enough without even consuming a single drop. The very thought of being surrounded by so much wine – even though some of the vats were empty at the time – was surprisingly comforting.

What a great sight it would be if I were to open one of the vat doors and let the wine free in a wave that would fill the room with grape-y goodness and drown me in it.

Morbid thoughts aside, and before I could get any more bright ideas, we moved on to the small bottling machine that had recently been in use. A few chipped bottles lay discarded on one side, an overhead that is often overlooked or ignored by the drinker, but costs the wine manufacturer a lot since the wine already poured can no longer be used as a chip of glass in the wine can be extremely dangerous.

Another facet of bottling we discussed was the labeling and how most of the wines produced at the Association Vinicole only had a front label – done by the same person for years. This allowed cutting costs and since most of the consumption is local, everyone is aware of the wine and no “romantic” details are required on the back – a marketing ploy adopted especially if bottles are being exported.


Finally, we headed to the tasting room where Mr. Delapraz opened a 2014 bottle of Clos de Châtonneyre, a white wine of the Chasselas variety. There are 35,000 hectares of Chasselas vineyards around the world, and with its 4,000 ha, Switzerland ranks third after Romania (13,000) and Hungary (6,000). However, Switzerland is numero uno in terms of vinifying the grape, which is essentially grown as a table grape in both Romania and Hungary. Other countries that vinify Chasselas includes France – where it is also mainly cultivated as a table grape, Germany, Canada, the US, and even Mexico, but this is a tiny and niche production.

The distinctive feature of this particular grape is that it absorbs extraordinarily well the typicity of its terroir, reflecting beautifully each of its specific aspects. Primary aromas are well supported, with the wine producer’s work adding another layer of complexity. Chasselas is the Vaud grape variety par excellence. The Clos de Châtonneyre we tasted was dry, delicate and very refreshing with lots of minerality and a slight floral nuance. As it is low in alcohol content – 12 % – it works well as an aperitif or to accompany fish dishes.

Following the Clos de Châtonneyre, we had a bottle of red wine – a good year I’m told. Mr. Delapraz went on to discuss the wine notes and was modest enough to acknowledge that it wasn’t the best wine but it was a good wine. While I didn’t say much at the time, I would disagree with him to the point that all the wines that I had from Corseaux during that entire trip – and there were quite a few – were splendid and possibly the most satisfying and unrivalled wine drinking experience I’ve ever had.

I had caught myself many-a-times during dinners staring at a half empty bottle wondering if it would be greedy to take more so soon… and more often than not, I did.


As I stood there trying to pay attention to the wine notes and all the talk about the region and the workings of the Vinicole, sipping and spitting the wine, a different kind of conversation commenced inside my head, one that included my entire body.

It went something like this:

Stomach: Hey, what’s going on up there? I smell wine, but I’m not getting any.

Liver: Don’t ask me, nothing has come past me either.

Brain: Mouth! Stomach’s complaining about not getting any wine.

Mouth: He’s such a whiner.

Stomach: Wait! Are you drinking Swiss wine? Why am I not getting any?

 Taste Buds: Tee hee hee hee

 Stomach: Mouth! You better send some to me right now!

 Mouth: Suckaaaaaaa!

And then my Stomach thunderously grumbled.

The other organs, which had been quiet till now, all joined in and sent a petition to the Brain. The Brain had no option but to get to work – hate it when that happens – for it would not be good if bodily noises were to be the cause of embarrassment for me – and them as a result – in front of others.

And so I devised the best possible technique to make all my organs happy. I started by taking bigger sips of wine, gulps if you may, and would slowly let half of it trickle down my throat and spit only a measly amount of it back. Then when I realized that no one was really paying attention at me spitting – because why would anyone – I just pretended to do that and not actually spit anything out.

And I did this all with a smile on my face and nods of my head as we went on discussing different types of wine glasses, how they help accentuate the flavours, and various other advantages and disadvantages of the surroundings –once a bottle of wine has been opened – and their effects on the wine.


It can be the location, the atmosphere, or that we were having a wonderful time in Switzerland, but one of the reasons why wine from Corseaux is so beautiful and delicious is the love and passion that goes into it.

You simply have to converse with anyone minutely related to wine producing and you’ll understand how important it is, not just as a business, but as a way of life.

With all the initial uncertainty about visiting the Vinicole, I had forgotten my camera and thus made do with the one in my phone – another excuse to go back some day. From the outside, The Vincole has a very petite and quaint look, cramped in-between residential houses. Inside, the space is “decorated” in such a fashion that nothing takes away from the wine. There is no hullaballoo over gimmicky attractions of any sort. It is a place of business where the spotlight always shines bright on the Wine. But, it’s filled with (hard) labours of love and emotions that will ultimately bring joy to many others.



As I walked out, shielding my eyes from the bright sun, I dreamt about the scene that would play around harvest. “Carts” filled with grapes coming in through the narrow lanes of the village, the barn doors permanently open to welcome them and start the process that would take a year before being fruitful, but what I fantasized the most about was the air, and how the smell of crushed grapes would tempt me, pull me inside the Vinicole to take a little sip, a gulp, a whole bottle to enjoy.

The story doesn’t end here – for you, right now, maybe yes – but I will have to go back some day and experience it all again, especially during the harvest season. In the meantime though, if you find yourself in the region before me – Vevey is next door, Montreux is 10 minutes by train, Lausanne is a half-hour away – take a little detour to Corseaux and buy a bottle, or ten, from the Association Vinicole and thank me later for having one of the best wines you ever will.

La Cave des Vignerons de Corseaux en Lavaux

Rue du Village 20, 1802 Corseaux, Vaud

Tel: 021 921 31 85


Facebook :

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 8:00-12:00 / 13:30-18:00

Sat: 9:00 – 12:00

Wine tasting: CH 5.00 (5.00 USD) or free if you buy 6 bottles

This post is co-authored by Jeanne Delapraz who provided vital information about the Association in addition to various facts about the grapes, wine notes, and the process of winemaking. 


  • Sarah M
    Posted 27 February, 17 at 6:59 AM

    I really love the way you’ve written about the wine; quite clearly written from the point of view of somebody who really adores wine. Yes, I too would like one of the oak barrels to take home; it would make a great talking piece.
    The photos and the labels exude classy and expensive. Maybe not, but that’s the impression it gives.
    I’d never even thought about buying Swiss wine before; come to that I don’t think I”ve ever noticed any. Maybe I should be more adventurous.

  • Yu En
    Posted 27 February, 17 at 7:34 PM

    The way you described your body makes me laugh.
    I am always interested in wine culture, but Swiss wine is something I’ve never tried. I can’t believe this only costs 5 USD as wine tasting is a very expensive activity in Taiwan!

    Also, congrats on the 200th posts! That’s a fantastic achievement!

  • Global Girl Travels
    Posted 27 February, 17 at 9:00 PM

    I have never tried Swiss wine but after reading this post, I am yearning for one. Visiting winery is definitely my cup of tea. Love wines and seeing them served directly from a barrel is an experience that I always relish!

  • Kathy - Walkabout Wanderer
    Posted 27 February, 17 at 9:03 PM

    Great post. I had a little giggle at your conversation with yourself about the wine. I am so similar when wine tasting.
    I had a really interesting tour similar t this in Tuscany, Italy. It really was interesting to learn how they made the wine and all the effort that goes into it. I find this a lot more interesting than just tasting the wine as I did in a vine yard visit in South Africa.
    I have a lovely wooden barrel in my garden at home as a table 🙂

  • Janine Good
    Posted 28 February, 17 at 9:08 AM

    The more I read about Swiss wine, the more I am intrigued to check out the wineries. I do love the fact that it is usually undiscovered by travellers as it makes it unique and off the beaten path. Commercial wineries are usually overrated and up the cost per bottle due to notoriety. I hope to get here and try some wine after reading your post.

  • MakeTime2SeeTheWorld (@VickiLouise86)
    Posted 28 February, 17 at 9:39 AM

    I lived in Switzerland a couple years ago and – I hate to say it – didn’t really like the wine! I would love to visit this region though, it’s totally unspoiled and undiscovered. Just having a bottle of wine from here for the cellar would be so special!

    And congrats on your 200th post!

  • usfman
    Posted 2 March, 17 at 6:01 AM

    I remember the vineyards traveling by train to Lausanne. Every inch of the surrounding land was put to some useful purpose. How Swiss!

  • Nadine Cathleen
    Posted 3 March, 17 at 5:46 AM

    I think I never knowingly had Swiss wine before. I like Austrian and German white wine but Swiss…hmm.. will try one next time 🙂 And your last photo looks so beautiful.. kind of captures the moment very well (and the stunning background helps too!) 🙂

  • Soraya @ Hello Raya
    Posted 4 March, 17 at 6:20 AM

    I totally would have secretly drunk the wine too instead of spitting it out! I mean seriously…what a waste to spit it out! Glad you listened to your organs haha. But wow, being a Swiss, I had no idea you could actually visit a vineyard and go wine tasting. What an excellent way to explore Swiss wine! I totally will look at doing this next time I am in Switzerland.

  • Barbara Wagner
    Posted 5 March, 17 at 12:04 AM

    I didnt realize Swiss wine was good. I am actually going to Zurich next week and I will have a chance to taste some of these. Cant wait!

    Posted 5 March, 17 at 2:42 AM

    LOL I live in the UK and I had no idea there WAS swiss wine. Oh, and I generally swallow the best stuff – no matter what!!!

  • 100cobbledroads
    Posted 5 March, 17 at 6:15 PM

    Such a vivid, engaging narration.. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. And congratulations on your 200th post..that’s a great milestone to celebrate with wine 🙂

  • Anne @TravelTheGlobe (@TTGLOBE4L)
    Posted 5 March, 17 at 9:16 PM

    I definitely don’t do wine tasting with a spit. It is such a waste of wine. I love trying different places though and this sounds fun

  • kad8585
    Posted 5 March, 17 at 11:47 PM

    I always love hearing about virtually unexplored areas of popular countries like Switzerland. And while I am not a wine drinker, i love the rich history and intricay of the wine making process. Like, who knew that they had to inport oak barrels from france and can only use them for 3 years. Who knew??? Glad you had fun experiencing “wine heaven” and thanks for sharing such majestic photos.

  • Christina
    Posted 6 March, 17 at 1:55 PM

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Swiss wine but have never really had the chance to try it. It’s good to know the industry is thriving. I’ll definitely put wine tasting on my list of things to do for my upcoming trip to Switzerland.

    • Christina
      Posted 8 March, 17 at 1:05 PM

      Actually, I just spoke to a friend who comes from Switzerland and I’ve been told that Swiss wine is a hot item at the moment. Love those black and white photos too!

  • Sarj
    Posted 6 March, 17 at 6:28 PM

    What a very detailed account! It’s always my problem, too.. I always want to bring local wines, liquor or any specialty drink a place has, but I often worry about my baggage allowance limit! 🙁 If I could find sampler/smaller bottles, I’d take that instead. When I take a vineyard tour or a wine tasting event, I will use your technique and not spit everything out! haha!

  • nomadicfoot
    Posted 6 March, 17 at 11:40 PM

    i never drink wine but while reading this post i realized that this place is such a great one for wine lovers. Most important you described it very well.

  • Indrani
    Posted 7 March, 17 at 10:42 AM

    Who thought so much goes into making of wine. While sipping wine we think of different things and never about the complicated time consuming process. 😛 🙂 Very well made post with pictures.

  • Baskets Life Travel
    Posted 7 March, 17 at 3:51 PM

    I have to say we have live in Europe for 10 years and have also overlooked Swiss wine instead going to Germany, France and Italy. We will have to check them out for sure!

  • Mansoureh
    Posted 7 March, 17 at 6:18 PM

    I didn’t know swiss wine is famous and good. I usually though French and Italian ones are the best. Recently, I have heard many good things about swiss food too. I should go back there

  • Ivy
    Posted 8 March, 17 at 12:08 AM

    Why spit it out!! Haha we find that such a waste 😛 I didn’t know about Swiss wines- will have to try it when we come across one next time. I can’t believe it only costs 5USD for wine tasting! That is crazy cheap.

  • Patti Morrow
    Posted 8 March, 17 at 12:24 AM

    I don’t drink a lot of wine so I’d never heard of twine from the region of Lavaux in Switzerland. There was a lot of information in your tour with Mr. Delapraz. I can understand that this is a way of life for him. The best part though was when you finally decided to just pretend to spit out the wine! Funny stuff!

  • Anneklien' Meanne
    Posted 8 March, 17 at 1:50 AM

    That’s a cheap wine tasting for fiver I’m in,I can’t stop smiling reading the part where you had conversation with your wine-body, I been to wine tasting and I did the same spitting less and less and consuming it instead-

  • Veronika Tomanova
    Posted 8 March, 17 at 5:20 AM

    Swiss wine? I never heard of it. I come from wine region myself. But could be that prices of Swiss wine can not compete with local East European market. PS: I love wein, too.

  • Jenn Brown
    Posted 8 March, 17 at 9:05 PM

    “As I walked down a cobbled street in the petite Swiss village of Corseaux…” Okay, this already sounds so dreamy! Then you had delicious wine into the mix… I need to get myself to Switzerland ASAP! Thank you for putting Vinicole on my radar.

  • bruceschinkel19
    Posted 9 March, 17 at 12:26 AM

    I really enjoyed this post, and the thoroughness of your descriptions! I’m always on the hunt for new (or new to me) wine regions while travelling, and this one is definitely on my list for my next trip to Switzerland.

  • neha
    Posted 10 March, 17 at 7:32 PM

    This post took me on a wonderful virtual journey. Although I have never tasted wine, but I have heard from others how wonderful it tastes. I guess the speciality of this particular one is like you said, limited quality production and the traditional knowledge that has been passed through generations. I had not heard of such tasty swiss wine before anywhere!

  • OurSweetAdventures
    Posted 11 March, 17 at 8:03 AM

    Wow, I learned a lot about wine tonight! Traveling throughout Europe last summer and making our way to Switzerland, I never once heard anything about Swiss wine. So this post was very educational and enjoyable. The next time I go buy wine I will try to find a nice bottle of Swiss wine. Lastly, your organ conversation definitely brought a big smile on my face. That was so creative and cute!

  • Wanderlust Vegans
    Posted 12 March, 17 at 10:24 AM

    We’ve never done a wine tasting before but seems like a fun thing to do on a trip. We aren’t really able to tell the difference between wines but maybe after doing something like this we would learn.

  • tatumskipper
    Posted 15 March, 17 at 11:15 PM

    First of all, Switzerland is my favorite country so I can only imagine their wine. I didn’t know if they had the right conditions but obviously I’m wrong. I would love to try all of these and then some even though I like more sweet wine.

  • traveltorgeir
    Posted 15 March, 17 at 11:47 PM

    Switzerland is not the first country I think of when i think of wine, but your post made me crave their wine. Seeing how they export so little it seems the best would be to visit. Another thing for my bucketlist. And my body reacts in the same way as yours when tasting wine. It feels very wrong not to swallow the wine, but simply spit it out. Almost unnatural 🙂

  • Paulina
    Posted 16 March, 17 at 12:02 AM

    Wow i never read a post on Swiss wine. Now i really want to try it. The pictures are great!

  • rhiydwi
    Posted 16 March, 17 at 4:48 PM

    This was such an informative write-up but at the same time really fun to read! I loved the conversation between your organs, that was really amusing.
    I didn’t actually realise that Switzerland produced wines! I only really associate Spain, France and Italy with the wine industry, so this was eye-opening and super interesting. I imagine with the high quality of everything else produced in Switzerland, the wine must be incredible.

  • Joanna
    Posted 16 March, 17 at 8:07 PM

    What an amazing experience you’ve had! I have been to a few wine tastings in my life but none so authentic! The entire story and the fact that Switzerland actually makes wine is astonishing! I don’t think I have ever seen Swiss wine anywhere, no wonder they keep it all inside the country and don’t export it. I am intrigued by the Pinot Grigio, I’ love to try it. I don’t blame you for not spitting in the end. Who spits good wine? 🙂

  • ilive4travel
    Posted 16 March, 17 at 8:19 PM

    I never knew switzerland produced wine!! This looks like a great place to visit to learn the history and have a sample. I still haven’t visited a winery despite living in NZ, maybe one day I will, maybe in switzerland 🙂

  • Ha @ Expatolife
    Posted 16 March, 17 at 10:52 PM

    I always love posts about wine! I haven’t tried any Swiss wine yet, unfortunately! You are so lucky that you experienced wine from the region of Lavaux!

  • Jackie Taylor
    Posted 17 March, 17 at 12:50 AM

    What a unique experience! I actually used to live in Switzerland for a short time but I don’t think I’ve ever tried Swiss Wine. Next time I go, I will definitely be sure to try it!

  • FS Page
    Posted 19 March, 17 at 11:29 PM

    I really loved reading your article. Especially the photographs makes the article come alive. The vintage and rustic feel makes it looks classy and would definitely entice any wine lover to visit this place.

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