Or…Wine tasting…a free lunch…and some great entertainment!
We had taken the Jeep out for a Saturday drive through the mountains and farmlands around Gruyères and over the pass to Lake Geneva. It was one of those beautifully crisp, clear and warm, late spring days where the colors just leap out at you. A photographer’s dream. We took off with no clear plan, just meandering with a few hopes to find some great captures along the way. Hey, we didn’t even have a real map to speak of!
We had a pleasant drive through the Swiss countryside, enjoying some stunning castle views, wildflowers, and cheese shops. By noon we had made it through the mountains and to the lake Geneva shoreline with a serious hungry growl in our stomaches. We hadn’t made any plans so had no idea what to do for lunch.
Most of Lake Geneva’s towns and villages cater heavily to tourists so it was difficult to find something that seemed authentic. We were stopped at a stop light in Villeneuve when I caught the smoky aroma of grilled meat. Barbecue? A quick glance out the side window revealed the source: a smoky grill behind a stone wall in a large garden.
“That looks good,” I thought to myself but it seemed unlikely that we would find the place by the time we found a parking spot and just as unlikely that we’d be invited to what appeared to be a private party of some sort.
Well, we turned in toward the village center, parked, and were checking out the mediocre looking lunch options. I wandered off toward what I was sure was the direction of the smoke. I turned the corner in the last lane I planned to go down when the same smoky goodness hit me. “This way!” I called to the others. Plastered on the door of the Société Coopérative Viticole Villeneuve was a poster proclaiming today was a free wine tasting day, so in we walked.
We met Oliver behind the bar, friendly and offering us a taste. He was all smiles and obviously proud of the wine they made. Eventually he asked if we’d like to try some of the grilled saucissons in the garden. We did, of course, so he led us back, explained how the sausage was homemade by the butcher who was also the cook at the grill. He went on to recommend a nice red wine to have with the saucisson and filled up our tasting glasses, once again. Every time I told him I was the driver he would just laugh and pour a little extra! I finally had to turn my glass upside down to stop his generosity. He just smiled and winked and filled up everyone else’s a little higher.
After the lunch, we were treated to some poetry recitals. The muse for the poetry? The best wines of the house, of course! And this brought out Oliver with two more wines to taste. The last one was a delicious red priced at $250 per bottle. Naturally, I just had to accept that offering.
Eventually we’d had our fill of free sausage, salad, and bread (and wine!) and sought out Oliver to get a recommendation on purchasing a case of wine. Here is a shot of him recommending his wares. What a great personality to meet on this perfect afternoon.
We left the Coopérative happy and content with full bellies and six bottles of delicious white wine.