The winery of St Jodern Kellerei in Switzerland’s beautiful Brig, in the canton of Valais, has long been recognised as having the highest vineyard in Europe. Quite a tall achievement, no?
Sitting between 650m and 1150m above sea level, it is the Visperterminen vines in particular that sit at the steep tip top peak, but all of the grapes - Visperterminen and those chilling just below - luxuriate together in the perks of having a year-round continental, Alpine climate - with a view.
The vines are exposed to cold, occasionally frosty winters, hot summers and warm, autumnal sunshine, with the heat of the foe favouring the ripening of the late specialties. All of which tends towards the development of deliciously unique, highly prized wines, spanning reds, whites and rosés, under the collective Heida grape variety.
Valais has long been a wine-maker’s (and wine drinker’s) haven, with archaeologists finding evidence of Celtic viniculture stretching back through the ages, and with some old wine varieties from Valais even originating in areas of France.
Visperterminen itself was originally considered too high – and too difficult to get to – for private owners, so a brave collective of six was formed when a tourist, a lawyer, a banker and three winemakers banded together to re-open the vines and cement a place in Valais – and history – for having Europe’s highest vines, poetically called, “the pearl of Alpine wines”.
St. Jodern Kellerei itself has a lot to offer, too. A co-operative with over 500 members, St. Jodern Kellerei produces wine according to age-old traditions, doing everything by hand, while setting its barrels within striking and modern surroundings in its designer wine cellar, complete with specially designed pendulums and solid, cast glass coverings for the barrels.
A 20-minute drive from St. Jodern Kellerei’s dizzying heights sits the equally lofty and cool Belle-Époque Hotel de Londres, Brig’s spot of English eccentricity meets Swiss design,and a perfect home for urban explorers on their way for a spot of mountain hopping in Saas-Fee and Zermatt, or of course, hitting those vineyards.
Peek in our Travel Journal for all things wine and grapes in: Valais’ High Altitude Wine, Michel Reybier’s World of Luxe Wine, another shot of Swiss innovation in The World’s Best Wine Cellar, Austria’s Best Organic Wine and some Luxe, Organic Vines in Mallorca. And for further elements to Switzerland’s Brig, check out all things Mountainside Culture, how it oozes with Raclette and shines bright with Europe’s Saffron Fields.