Domaine des Crêtes is located in the Valais (valley) of Southwestern Switzerland. Swiss wines are almost completely unknown in the US, as less than 2% are exported, mainly to Germany and France. Because Switzerland the production is so small and has its own currency, these wines are typically very expensive compared to what you would get from France, but some producers are actually making excellent wines for a great price. Paul met Martine Vocat, one of these winemakers, while on a winemaking internship in Switzerland. In the early 1900's, Martine's grandfather expanded the estate by purchasing vineyards from a local monastery, whose only condition was keeping the name of the monk who planted the vineyard, the "Pére Mayor" on the wine from this parcel.
Domaine des Crêtes has 60 acres of vineyards spread across five limestone ridges (crêtes): La Crête à Feu, La Crête du Pont, La Crête des Chevey, La Crête à Raby and La Grande Crête". All five ridges are located to the west of the upper Rhône river (yes, that Rhône) and formed by glacial erosion. The soils are very thin and rocky, especially at the high elevation where the vineyards are. The entire estate is chemical free, with plans for organic certification.
The estate produces wine from fifteen different grape varietals, many which are unique to Switzerland. The high mountain elevation makes the wines light and intense. The Swiss are precise winemakers, with each varietal having a clean, distinct flavor.