Thursday, 12 September 2013

THREE SUNS (Thursday, September 12)

Torrential rains so heavy that they woke Jim and I in the night continued well into this morning. Even birds were huddling under eaves in an attempt to remain dry. Today at 1:30 p.m. was to be our visit to the Dezaley vineyard, high on the side of the Lavaux terraces. Signs were not hopeful but miraculously Mother Nature did her bit and cleared up her dirty gray skies, even blessedly allowing a sliver of blue to peak through.
And so off we journeyed in a tractor pulled wagon no less! Hey! Only the best mode of transportation for Jim and I?!? On our rather bumpy steep climb to the vineyards, we passed through the Cully railway tunnel leaving Cully behind and below us; before us lay the Lavaux terraces. Although experts estimate that some of the Lavaux vines may date back to Roman times, these steep slopes made the land virtually unsuitable for agriculture. Thank you Cistercian monks! It was the monks who in the 12th century cleared, planted and laboured these slopes allowing the Swiss wine saga to commence. The monks built stone walls forming successive terraces to support and level the terrain. This method is so reminiscent of the stone walls built for much the same reason (although not wine) on the Arran Islands of Ireland.
The first tiny village we passed through was Riex. A symbolic grapevine leaf stands at the entrance to the town. Hmmmm? Wonder why? The slightly faded, age old homes pack tightly together yielding to the importance of the vineyards, thereby leaving, it seems, as little space as possible for the village itself. Even one car on the road seemed too much. Departing Riex, the spectacular views of the vast Lavaux terraces truly began. We continued our steep ascent arriving in the second vintner town, Epesses, and then slowly began a spine tingling, gear grinding descent. Suddenly the Dezaley vineyards surrounded us; the views were jaw dropping. Lake Geneva below, the French Alps looming in the distance and the never ending vastness of the Lavaux wine terraces.
We were told that the terrain of the vineyards with their steep slopes give the Lavaux wines their very distinctive character, strong with a blend of aromas and tastes. It is said that in Lavaux, the grape has three suns to ripen and increase its sweetness: the one shining in the sky; the one reflected from Lake Geneva like a mirror and during the evening, the one coming from the heat stored in the stone walls of the terraces. I love this!
Harvest will begin in three weeks. These grapes will be hand harvested! Astounding! Little hoppers, for bringing the grapes in from the steep fields, are attached to funicular type devices. In preparation for harvest, these were being placed in strategic locations as we toured.
Imagine yourself surrounded by acres of terraced vineyards all around you, tasting wine. It is an experience like no other? My favourite - a Dezaley Grand Cru Les Cotes (white); Jim - a St. Saphorin Gamaret-Garanor (red, of course). Truthfully, It was a let down when the time came to descend from those glorious fields and our panoramic views became a thing of memory.
Before bidding au revoir/auf wiedersehen to Switzerland, tomorrow we will return to the Berner Oberland and Lauterbrunnen -The Alps - for three days. In planning our vacation, we were concerned that weather may restrict us from reaching the top of the Jungfraujoch and the Shilthorn peaks. Thus, we scheduled a second chance with a second visit. Pray for sunny weather! We still have the Shilthorn plus much, much more!
Back to German tomorrow so bis morgen..........

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