Recently, some friends and I took a winetasting expedition. Although it wasn’t quite the spontaneous and utterly random trip of last year, this trip was highly educational, about both wine and Swiss culture. Locating the winery was perhaps the most adventure-like component of the trip. Although there was an address on the website, it didn’t match the directions given on their map, or by my contact. So we hopped off the train at Epesses, a 15-minute train ride from Montreux, and walked, with the hope that we were going in the right direction. It turned out we were, and we found the winery, Testuz, without a problem, which was perhaps a disappointment in its own, as getting lost always adds to the excitement of being found.
Regardless, we entered the tasting room to be told to wait our guide, Katherine. Katherine arrived, looking distinctly harried, and hurried off again. After waiting 15, 20 minutes, she arrived and told us that she only had time for a 20 minute tour, which is quite a bummer after you’ve been waiting around for longer than that. The winemaker, Markus, however, came to our rescue and volunteered to show us around. Although Markus was passionate about his profession and product, it soon became clear that he was not the person accustomed to giving tours. Most of the time, reps will give you a brief tour, talk about what is unique about the wine, and then you’ll taste. Not so with Monsieur Markus. We toured the entire winery, and were talked through everything from the different varietals of the lavaux and the rest of Switzerland, to how the grapes are harvested (sometimes they use helicopters!), to how they are pressed and fermented, how that differs from old methods, and how the cellars are ventilated and the stainless steel is kept chilled. We were shown the ancient oak barrels that are no longer used, the newer ceramic ones, and the current stainless steel. Despite the incredible technicalities and details, we found the tour fascinating (though I probably couldn’t pass a quiz on the finer points). After about an hour, we were led back to the tasting room, where we were treated to two chasselas (a Swiss varietal that drinks like a soft but very subtly bubbling sauvignon blanc), two roses (one, translated, is called “The eye of the partridge,” because the color matches perfectly, apparently), a chardonnay that was just a touch too oaked for my liking, another Swiss specialty, dezaley, a gamay, a beautiful pinot noir, and an entirely overoaked red blend. Our tour over, we meandered back to our train stop, munching on crackers, salami and goat cheese. We wandered down to the beach when we realized that we had quite a long wait for the next train. Although it was overcast and muggy, it was still warm enough to dip our feet in the lake, and we enjoyed a few minutes in the lake before we realized that we weren’t alone on what we thought was an isolated beach. Slowly looking over, we saw that there was a man, in what appeared to be a circle of rocks. This wasn’t entirely surprising, considering that we were on a very rocky beach to begin with, but what was odd was that he looked like he was hiding. Suddenly, my friend’s words came back to me; she had told me that Epesses was a lovely beach, but to watch out, as it’s privacy tends to attract many nudists. Just as I turned around to warn my companions, our nudist friend stood up, confirming my suspicions. We turned and ran away, most likely giggling madly, and we spent the rest of our wait on the other side of the tiny dock, trying to avoid getting nibbled by ducks. Despite the easy trip and surprise nudist, we had a wonderful, and highly educational, winetasting.