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Charlotte Laborie: Les Caves Ouvertes and my Top 3 vineyards in Geneva to tickle your taste buds

I know Switzerland is not the first country that comes to mind when one says “good wine” (believe me, I’m French), yet I must admit, they do have occassionally some decent stuff. Joking. I’m being so snobbish, tell me you’re Parisian without telling me you’re Parisian. On top of their pretty decent wine, there’s an event that animates the whole canton of Geneva taking place on the weekend of 25 May called Les Caves Ouvertes, meaning the “open cellars”.

In short, you buy one wine glass engraved with the canton of Geneva’s coat of arms for 20 Swiss francs, cycle from vineyard to vineyard to taste the different wines, and get day-drunk with your friends.

Have I got your attention? I thought so 😉 Below is the list of my three favourite vineyards to visit, which tick the following two criteria: delicious wine, and good vibes.

On a more technical side, you can either cycle, drive or take a free shuttle there – you will be able to find all the information you need about the shuttle on the TPG travel website. Given the nature of the activity you will undertake, I don’t recommend driving (wink wink). In terms of numbers and geography, more than 70 winemakers from the canton of Geneva are throwing open their cellar doors, and you can sip your way through three wine wonderlands: Mandement (Russin, Satigny, Dardagny, Peissy, La Plaine,…), Entre Arve & Rhône (Lully, Bernex, Soral,…), and Arve & Lac (Jussy, Anières, Gy, etc.)

My favourite is Mandement, and all the vineyards listed below are located in Mandement. I recommend only picking one area, because the event only lasts a day and you don’t want to be stuck in a car or a shuttle all day.

And guess what?

Besides wine wizardry, most vineyards also offer nibbles and entertainment to keep your energy levels high.

Domaine les Perrières

Domaine Les Perrières, nestled along Route de Peissy in Satigny, is a gem waiting to be discovered during Les Caves Ouvertes. Managed by the esteemed Famille Rochaix, this vineyard exudes a sense of familial warmth and dedication to their craft. As you stroll through the vine-laden paths, you’ll be greeted by the Rochaix family’s passion for winemaking, evident in every sip of their exquisite wines.

With a commitment to quality and a touch of Rochaix charm, Domaine Les Perrières promises a tasting experience that’s as inviting as it is unforgettable. So, mark it on your map and prepare for a sip of Satigny’s finest at Domaine Les Perrières.

Domaine les Perrières

Address: Route de Peissy 54, 1242 Satigny

Domaine des Balisiers

With a vineyard set on 46 hectares using the “open lyre” (ask ChatGPT what it is) trellising method, they’re literally doubling down on sunshine and aroma formation. They didn’t stop at just breaking ground in winemaking; they went green, earning Demeter’s nod for biodynamic excellence in 2015.

Founded in 1982, they’ve been organic from the get-go, but since 2005, they’ve been dancing to the biodynamic beat. And when Gérard Pillon passed the torch to his son Christophe in 2011, it wasn’t just business as usual – it was a vision quest. Christophe’s not just raising glasses; he’s raising standards – *mic drop*.

From replanting with superior grapes to meticulous manual harvests, they’re blending old-school charm with modern savoir-faire. So, when you sip their wines, know you’re tasting the legacy of tradition, with a twist of innovation, straight from the heart of Swiss viticulture.

Domaine des Balisiers

Address: Route de Peney-Dessus 12, 1242 Satigny

Domaine du Paradis

At Domaine du Paradis, the wines are so divine they might just make you believe you’ve found wine heaven. Tucked away on the outskirts of Geneva, this vineyard is the epitome of elegance with a side of whimsy.

Sip on the acclaimed Gamaret as you soak up the beauty of the vineyard, listen to the owner’s vineyard tales and wander in his wife’s secret garden of scents, you won’t be disappointed. There’s magic in every corner of this estate.  t’s a sip-and-serenity experience that will leave you questioning if you’ve just had a taste of paradise in a glass, hence its name.

Domaine du Paradis

Address: Rte du Mandement 275, 1242 Satigny

All in all, Les Caves Ouvertes in Geneva isn’t just about swirling and sipping; it’s a journey through vineyards where laughter mingles with the aroma of fine wines. These top three vineyards aren’t just spots on a map; they are proper jewels of the Swiss terroir.

So, gather your friends, hop on your bike and start sipping! Pro tip: if you’re too drunk, a dip in the lake will set your ideas straight. You’re welcome, follow me for more tips.


Read more about Switzerland here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read more from Charlotte here.

Charlotte Laborie grew up in England, Belgium and Switzerland. Charlotte then moved to Paris and graduated from Sciences Po Paris. She is still based in Paris, where she works in marketing.

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