Switzerland and Jura: Wine in the Shadow of the Alps

We’ve been to some dramatic wine destinations in the last 30+ years; it’s hard to top Germany’s Mosel Valley or Portugal’s Douro Valley or Mendoza with the dramatic Andes in the background. I think we’ve found another breathtaking mountain destination – actually two

Jura's location within France.

Jura’s location within France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

areas- the Alps in Switzerland and the nearby Jura in France- which we’ll visit in May.


The tradition of wine and wine culture in Switzerland is very old, at a minimum from the Roman era. In fact the Lavaux wine growing region was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The landscape is characterized by its sunny vineyard covered hills, imposing mountain panoramas, picturesque castles such as the Chateau Aigle and the incredible views of the Rhone Valley with terraced vineyards.

At least most people have heard of Switzerland, but Jura? I doubt if 1 out of 10 could pinpoint on a map its location. The Jura gets no respect especially since French winemaking doesn’t get much more extreme than this, yet the Jura has developed several distinct wine styles that are now being discovered by the rest of the world.

Oxidative white wines are a Jura specialty. These vins typés are made by simply leaving a wine alone to age in barrel under a protective layer of yeast. Sounds like Sherry, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t taste like Sherry.

And the ultimate oxidative wine is vin jaune, a wine that has made

Vin Jaune ("yellow wine") of Jura, F...

Vin Jaune (“yellow wine”) of Jura, France and Franche Comté cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jura known throughout the wine world for its extreme concentration and range of flavors, from smoky to yeasty and high acidity. Vin jaune is typically aged in barrel for 6 years and three months. During this time, a layer of yeast forms on the surface and protects the wine from air. Vin jaune even has its own individually styled bottle.

And then there’s vin de paille where grapes are laid out on trays with straw and dried for weeks before made into wine. The result is an intense honey, nutty complex aroma and taste like no other wine in the world.

The critics already know about wines from Jura and Switzerland and wine lovers deserve the opportunity to experience in situ these exceptional wines and wine regions.

Barrel of fermenting Vin jaune with a cutaway ...

Barrel of fermenting Vin jaune with a cutaway view showing its characteristic yeast film covering called voile, similar to Sherry’s “flor”, at Fruitiere vinicole d’Arbois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ll be there next May.

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