Tasting Notes

A Zurich Winemaker Opens Up About One Of Switzerland's Lesser Known Industries
Cécile Schwarzenbach-Götti is a member of Schwarzenbach Weinbau's multi-generational family of wine growers. Photo courtesy of Siffert, Weinweltfoto.ch.
Cécile Schwarzenbach-Götti
Co-Owner, Schwarzenbach Weinbau

She doesn't hesitate when asked to name her favorite wine. "Why, Räuschling, of course."

It has to be. Cécile Schwarzenbach-Götti is a member of one of the oldest winegrowing businesses in Meilen, whose bestseller is the fresh, dry Räuschling, a light, fruity white wine with notes of citrus.

For that last three decades, Schwarzenbach-Götti has been helping run the family business, only 9 miles southeast of Zurich, in what is known as Switzerland’s Gold Coast. It has been in her husband, Hermann’s family since 1911, when his great-grandfather Hermann III, began manufacturing non-alcoholic wines.

The Schwarzenbach winery persisted in developing Räuschling wines, and today it is their most popular varietal. Photo courtesy of Siffert, Weinweltfoto.ch.
An Introduction To The Trade
Never Giving Up On A Delicate Grape

“Räuschling is a very old variety of grape from this region and is difficult to grow," she explains. And when other winemakers gave up on the delicate grape, Schwarzenbach Weinbau persisted. "My father-in-law kept it up, and then my husband continued that dedication."

Räuschling is only found in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. "It is grown nowhere else in the world," she says. But there's more to the winery than its Räuschlings. From 12 grape varieties, Schwarzenbach Weinbau creates 25 different wines, with 55 percent of their production being white, and 45 percent yielding red.

Hermann and Cécile, their son, Alain, and his wife, Marilen, are members of one of Zurich's oldest wine-making families. Photo courtesy of Siffert, Weinweltfoto.ch.
Passing The Torch
The Next Generation At The Helm

Two years ago, the couple handed the reins to their son, Alain, and his wife, Marilen.

"It is nice to keep the family business intact, and to see that it continues," says Schwarzenbach-Götti. "You never know if your children will love your business, but Alain has always had an interest in it. He and Marilen will give the winery as much love as we have."

Schwarzenbach-Götti grew up in Meilen, but never was interested in the region's winemaking until, at the age of 17, she met her husband. After they were married, the couple went to Australia, where Hermann worked for a year at Mildara Wines in Merbein.

Schwarzenbach Weinbau cultivates 14 hectares of vineyards in the lakeside region of Meilen. Photo courtesy of Siffert, Weinweltfoto.ch.
Adapting To The Work
The Nature Of The Wine Business

"We did a lot of learning about wines together there," she says. "I wasn't sure if I would like the business, but gradually I grew to love it. You do everything yourself, from the growing of the grapes to the selling of the wine. It's a satisfying challenge when you work with a product from nature. You never know what is going to happen, and there are things you cannot control, which makes it difficult, but you learn to live with that."

The day-to-day business requires Schwarzenbach-Götti to do a little bit of everything, including caring for and feeding members of the apprentice program. The future winemakers live on site for about two years to learn the craft. "We've trained more than 100 apprentices over the years," she says proudly. "We are contributing to making sure that winemakers will continue this Swiss tradition for years to come."

Local Recommendations

Experience The Environs Of Zurich With Cécile Schwarzenbach-Götti

Zurich is a city of balance, with opportunities to luxuriate in nature one day, and to dine in the cosmopolitan city center the next. Here, our Swiss winemaker guides explorers through her favorite urban enclaves and countryside hideaways.

Only In Zurich

From Old Town To New West, Discover The Best Of Then And Now

Repeat visitors to Zurich are already aware of Old Town’s top attractions: St. Peter’s Church, whose clock is the largest of any church in Europe; and the double towers of the Grossmünster cathedral, the city's most famous landmark, where visitors can climb 187 stairs for a bird's eye view over Zurich rooftops and beyond to the majestic Alpine mountains. But the area’s quiet charm, cobblestone streets, car-free alleys, and quaint sidewalk cafés are worth another look. Walliser Keller (21 Zähringerstrasse; +41-44-269-44-44) is a favorite for traditional Swiss fondue served inside cozy red gondolas that once carried skiers up the Alps.

Walk off the calories with a leisurely climb through the medieval city center to the top of Lindenhof Hill. There, enjoy watching regulars playing a life-size game of chess on a large checkerboard paved with stones.

To explore the modern side of the city, head to Zurich West, the land of transformation. "This is the trendy district, and the place where hip creative types converge," says Schwarzenbach-Götti. Not to be missed is Puls 5 (18 Giessereistrasse; +41-44-544-10-82). Built in a former foundry, there are restaurants and small shops, but the centerpiece is the exhibition hall, which hosts large art fairs, including the Contemporary Art Fair Zurich each September. Yet, there's always something going on, from wine fairs to a pop-up village market.

Photo courtesy of  Walliser Keller.

Day Trips From Zurich

Explore The Gold Coast Wine Region

Take a day trip about 40 minutes outside of the city to experience the 23 mile Living Wine Route (Branch Association Zurich Wine; +41-58-105-91), which begins in Winterhur, at the center of wine country, and passes through farming villages and Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfall. Local vintners from the region host hikes along the route, opening their cellars to visitors, and offering an opportunity to experience the fruits of their labor.

Alternatively, a one and a half hour drive takes oenophiles to the town of Stäfa along Lake Zurich's Gold Coast, where visitors can experience wine-focused events almost every weekend of the year. The largest is celebrated in the first week of October at the Stafner Sauser Sunntig, when the wineries invite guests to toast to their harvest. At Schwarzenbach Weinbau (867 Seestrasse, Meilen; +41-44-923-01-25) join a community of winemakers for a special tasting in the Basement WG cellar, which is an extension of the Schwarzenbach Weinbau compound. It's where four different wineries-Diederik, Luthi, Schnorf, and Schwarzenbach-press their grapes. Here visitors can sample the distinctly different character of each wine. A treasured tasting experience to be sure.

Curiosity Seeking

Satisfy Your Inner Adventurer

Zurich is a madcap mix of fun, if you know where to look. Take part in the Fox Trail Zurich (ZVV, Lowenstrasse Hall;+41-44-215-40-00) for a totally different take on sightseeing. The treasure hunt leads explorers through the city on foot or by train with a series of clues, humorous hints, and secret messages.

For a shopping trip with an architectural history lesson built in, visit the converted railway viaduct in Zurich West, IM Viadukt (Viaduktstrasse; +41-44-412-83-93), where spaces beneath 36 arches built in 1894 now house art galleries, small boutiques, restaurants, and an indoor farmer's market. Ten minutes away along the railway tracks is Frau Gerolds Garten (23 Geroldstrasse; +41-78-971-67-64), an urban garden and gathering place, built among shipping containers. In spring and summer, crowds gather on the terrace and at open-air bars. In winter, a parlor inside the wooden pavilion serves comfort food–a menu loaded with a choice of fondues. In March, the menu changes to its Rübis & Stübis theme, where chefs are challenged to create resource-conscious dishes. 2017's theme, "From Leaf To Root," kept up a three-year tradition of creating dishes where no ingredient-or bite-was wasted.

Photo courtesy of Fox Trail.

Best Locations For Photo Ops

Where The City Is Picture Perfect

The Little Red Train (142 Limmatquai; +41-44-434-41-11), technically known as the Polybahn funicular rail, never fails to deliver superb views over Lake and the city’s landmarks. Best of all, it leaves every two to five minutes.

Take in more great views from the top of Üetliberg mountain via a cable car, which can be reached in 20 minutes via the Üetliberg Railway (8143 Üetliberg; +41-44-457-66-66). Once the cable car drops you off, there's plenty to do on Üetliberg besides take in the scenery. For the view of a lifetime, join members of tje Paragliding Club Zurich (info@pgzh.ch), or contact one of the many paragliding flight schools that offer tandem high-altitude flights that take off from the mountain.

For a picturesque perspective from the ground, Zurich's main street Bahnhofstrasse leads to the town square of Bürkliplatz, a starting spot for tours and a vegetable market that sets up twice a week. There you'll find a statue of the son of Zeus, a perfect backdrop for photos thanks to its prime placement-behind the statue is a postcard view of boats on Lake Zurich and the snow-capped Alps in the background.

Eat & Drink, Swiss Style

Authentic To The Core

To experience Swiss tavern culture, Schwarzenbach- Götti recommends enjoying a bit of country life. Just 10 minutes outside the city center is Restaurant Adlisberg (75 Adlisbergstrasse; +41-44-266-91-91), housed in a converted farmhouse on Zürichberg Hill, where home-style cuisine is served in an atmosphere of rustic charm. "They have a great wine list, too," she says.

Another place to explore a variety of Swiss wines? Neumarkt (5 Neumarkt; +41-44-252-79-39), where you’ll find the most beautiful garden in the middle of Old Town to sit outside, enjoy a meal, and a wine list with rare local vintages. Particularly quaint is the interior bar and café where locals gather in the evening to appreciate fine wines, delicious schnapps and brandies, and various light bites.

Photo courtesy Wirtschaft Neumarkt.