A journey for the senses from Sierre to Salgesch

Drei Personen auf einem Weg zwischen Reben im Genuss-Marathon, Wallis, Schweiz

«Next stop: Sierre.»

One last glimpse out of the train windows at the Valais Alps, and we descend the steps of the carriage to set foot on the platform at Sierre station. I take a deep breath of fresh air as the sun’s rays warm my cheeks, and pop on my sunglasses. It’s ideal weather for the outing we’ve planned for today: a journey for all the senses.

My friends and I have signed up for an excursion that combines a walk from Sierre to Salgesch with the chance to taste different wines and specialities from Valais: for foodies like us, all the ingredients of a dream day out. We set off right away for the Château de Villa, meeting point for our excursion.

Stage 1 : From the station to the château, a journey in time

The walk from Sierre station to the Château de Villa takes us out of the town centre and up to the foot of the vineyard-covered slopes. The avenues are lined with old houses and flower-filled gardens: we feel as if we’re travelling back in time. After 15 minutes strolling along Sierre’s sunny streets, we reach the Château de Villa. We admire the architecture of the historical building with its octagonal tower before stepping into the “oenothèque” – the wine bar/shop – for the next stage of our outing. My personal tip: Along the way, stop off at the Zenhäusern bakery to buy a pack of rye pearls – sweet treats made of puffed rye from Valais mixed with chocolate.

Stage 2: At the “oenothèque”, a journey guided by chance

Inside the château’s wine bar/shop, we marvel at the impressive collection of wines from cellars throughout Valais. A booklet lists all the many different wines waiting to be tasted. Difficult to decide with so much choice! One of my friends assures us that all Valais wines are good and that we could happily choose with our eyes shut, so we each point a finger at random at the wine list. Petite Arvine, Heida, Cornalin and Syrah: chance decides for us. And it turns out chance has very good taste: while the sommelier tells us the story of these wines, we get to know four contrasting grape varieties, each with a very different character and all delicious.

My personal tip: Ask the sommelier to show you the collection of old wines stored in the vaulted cellar of the Château de Villa.

Time now for the famous Raclette! At the château’s restaurant, you can taste five different cheeses from different regions of Valais. Don’t think for a moment that all Raclette cheeses taste the same! Some have a slightly smoky flavour, others tend to be more salty or creamy. Since you can have as many servings as you like, we enjoy a real Raclette feast. Once we’ve had our fill we set off, still licking our lips, for the next stage of our outing: a stroll through the Valais vineyards to walk off our lunch. My personal tip: Finish your lunch with an apricot sorbet, which you can sprinkle with Abricotine AOP apricot brandy: a sweet touch to round off your meal to perfection!

A raclette with a potato, onions and cornichons, Valais, Switzerland

Stage 3: In the vineyards, a journey through the land of 4,000-metre peaks

The walk from Sierre to Salgesch takes about 2 to 2,5 hours. More like 2,5 hours for us, as we’re taking the time to stop and admire the magnificent landscapes framed by high mountains. The walk is easy, following the dry-stone walls typical of Valais. Along the way, we pass the Chivirau vineyard. Here, when the grapes are ripe, you can help yourself straight from the vine, tasting some of the 34 different grape varieties cultivated. Further on, the path drops down into the Raspille gorges, where we enjoy the refreshing coolness. My personal tip: Pop a bottle of Opaline in your rucksack. This sparkling soft drink is made locally, mainly with apple juice. I tried the one flavoured with elderflower, perfect for a little break in the middle of the vineyards.

White grapes

Stage 4: At Salgesch, a journey beyond the River Raspille

Thanks to the many information panels along the path, we learn that the River Raspille marks the boundary between the French-speaking part of Valais, through which we’ve been walking so far, and German-speaking Upper Valais. When we reach Salgesch, famous for its fine wines, the first thing we’re drawn to is the chapel overlooking the village. We then visit the Wine Museum, where we discover lots of stories about cultivating the vines and the whole culture that surrounds growing grapes. After our lovely walk through these very vineyards, it’s fascinating to learn all about the work that the perfectionist winegrowers put in to maintain these glorious landscapes and produce superb wines. My personal tip: Call in at the Mathieu bakery, famous for its delicacies made with grape seeds, and try the delicious Traubenkernriegel cereal bars.

A field of vines in Sierre, Valais, Switzerland

Stage 5: From Salgesch, the return journey with private tasting

We take advantage of our visit to Salgesch to stock up on local wine and delicacies so we can continue this wonderful gastronomic adventure once we get back home. Eventually we reach Salgesch station, enchanted by all the magnificent scenery we have seen, and with the feeling that we’ve enjoyed a trip to foodie heaven. On the train journey back, a glass of Fendant is the ideal match for some rye bread and cured meat: the perfect way to round off a mouth-watering journey for all the senses! My personal tip: Looking for the ideal gift for foodie friends? I like offering a bottle of fruit brandy AOP. Choose between apricot and pear: perfect as a digestif, in cocktails or added to a dessert.

Two apricots next to a glass bottle, Valais, Switzerland