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SwissLachs in Lostallo

Atlantic salmon from the Graubünden mountains

If you travel to Ticino through Mesocco, via the San Bernardino, you will definitely pass by the large, modern wooden building of «Swiss Lachs». In an indoor recirculation system, Swiss Alpine Fish AG farms salmon in fresh mountain water – free of chemicals, antibiotics and microplastics. The modern farming facility allows for resource-saving water consumption. Only 2% fresh water is fed into the circuit. A biogas system is operated with the filter residues obtained from production. The result is fresh, healthy salmon that does not harm the environment or ecosystems.

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SOAPMAKER

A clean solution

In the beginning, there was the idea and the desire to make the world a little cleaner – and not just symbolically. A soap as natural as the beautiful surroundings of Arosa, free of any additives or other unnecessary ballast. The soapmaker Beat Urech – at home in Arosa, at home in the world – understands the miraculous process of soapmaking, because as a trained druggist he learned about glycerine, lyes and essential oils a long time ago. This has resulted in genuine Arosa natural soaps – for the body, hands, hair and soul.

As a sustainability-minded family man, yoga teacher and nature lover, Beat had long felt concerned about the shower gels, shampoos and liquid soaps available in supermarkets – products pumped full of chemical additives and fragrances. Was there a clean solution for cleaning? His research finally led him to the late Friedrich Weiss, an old-fashioned soapmaker living in Vienna at the time. His Stadtlauer Seifensiederei was an insider tip among soap connoisseurs throughout Europe. It wasn’t long before Beat, infected by soap
fever, mixed his first bucket of original Arosa soap.

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SHEEP FARM IN MALADERS

Winnetou and Sem watch over the herd

Sina Caflisch and Roman Nicolay run a large organic sheep farm with around 100 ewes in Maladers. Together, they have established a direct distribution network for lamb meat, and they personally supply the Chur and Schanfigg regions. But a sheep farm does not only produce lamb, it also has older sheep that have to be slaughtered. The meat of these animals is used to make salsiz sausages, cured meats, boiled and fried sausages, and minced meat. Sina processes the sheep’s wool into felt and uses it to make hand-crafted products.

When Sina and Roman aren’t in the pasture, their two llamas Winnetou and Sem keep an eye out for any large predators. The proximity of the village and a hiking trail leading through the pastures do not permit the use of guard dogs. The advantage of llamas is that they don’t have to be fed separately; just like the sheep, they consume grass, water and mineral salt.

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OUR WINE PRODUCERS

A SMALL REGION WITH BIG WINES

Viticulture in the rhine valley of graubünden was first documented in the will of tello, bishop of chur (765 ad). It is assumed that white wine (elbling, weisser veltliner, completer) was the main type initially grown. A turning point occurred around 1630, when in the course of the french military campaigns during the turmoil in graubünden, the pinot noir grape found its way to us and seemed quickly to become the primary variety.

VON SALIS WINES

Pleasure

Andrea Davaz and two of her friends founded von Salis AG in 1994. The company has grown steadily in recent years and now obtains grapes from 60 winegrowers, with over 50 hectares of cultivated land. This makes von Salis the largest wine producer in Graubünden.

A good wine results from the interplay of climate, soil and the optimal selection of grape varieties – adapted to the natural conditions. But for von Salis, terroir is not the only thing that matters. The people who tend the vineyards are also important. They are the ones who can understand and appreciate the terroir, get the most out of the natural conditions, and thus create a product full of pleasure.

Our tip: The «Malanser Pinot Blanc» (which we serve by the glass) is distinguished by its fine mineral taste, freshness and citrus notes. It’s a wonderful wine that puts you in the mood for a second glass.

GRENDELMEIER

Vineyard in the Tschalär

The winegrower Philipp Grendelmeier is something of a jack-of-all-trades, but he has very clear ideas. He became known primarily for his exotic fruit juices and jams. He grows gooseberries, rhubarb, elderberries, quinces, plums, peaches and strawberries. The macroclimate in Zizers in the Chur Rhine Valley even provides ideal ripening conditions for kiwis and mandarins.

Grendelmeier consistently follows ecological principles in his vineyard. He uses only organic fertilisers, where necessary, and completely avoids the use of herbicides. His approach to packaging his products is also rather unusual. Wherever possible, he chooses to use recyclable packaging and containers. He doesn’t just pay lip service to the responsible treatment of nature; for him, it is self-evident.

Our tip: «Dus Alvs» is a white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris grapes. Year after year, Grendelmeier manages to bring out the aromatic notes typical of these varieties.

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EICHHOLZ WINES

Organic? – Of course! 

Like many Graubünden winegrowers, Irene Grünenfelder is committed to organic winegrowing and thus creates wines with a strong emphasis on terroir at her Eichholz estate in Jenins. Wine just the way we want it – not an international hodgepodge. As a winemaker, she doesn’t come from a long tradition, but has created her own winery on her parents-in-law’s land with tenacity and a passion for wine. She is now aided by her son and successor, Johannes, while her daughter assists in an advisory capacity.

Our tip: At a blind tasting in Maran, the Pinot Noir «Eichholz» stood up to other, better known Pinots without any problems. The barrel-aged «Eichholz» wine is a smooth and powerful Pinot Noir for special occasions.

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HOF ROFEL

For love of the region

Hanspeter and Rahel Margreth have deep roots in the Schanfigg. They run an organic dairy farm in Langwies together with their three children. Around two thirds of their mountain pastures are situated between 1,900 and 2,200 metres above sea level – precisely where the tastiest herbs grow.

The Margreths store around 850 kilogrammes of cheese annually in an old Walser house in the Fondei. In winter, Hanspeter collects the cheese from the mountain in a bicycle trailer on touring skis, taking up to twelve wheels at a time. This somehow calls to mind an adventure from the Swiss classic «A Bell for Ursli».

Every year in August, Rahel and Hanspeter go to the «Bördter» high plateau above Langwies to make hay. The small hay bales, produced with a great deal of effort, are lowered from the high-cultivation area via an 850-metre rope. Anyone who tries the resulting alpine herbal tea or mountain hay syrup knows why the two young farmers go to so much trouble.

By the way: You can find the organic salsiz sausage made by Rahel and Hanspeter Margreth on our menu card.

HEIDELBERG WINERY

Leaving space for nature, in the vineyard and the cellar

In 1951, Ernst Lampert, father of the current winegrower Hanspeter Lampert, took over a mixed agricultural business from his own father. Over a period of 30 years, the Lamperts completely converted to viticulture and continued to expand their acreage and vineyard. The stony and limy soils of the estate are ideal for growing Burgundy varieties. The stone walls surrounding the vineyards help even heat-loving varieties like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen.

Our tip: Lampert’s Pinot Noir «Jubiläum» is grown in deep limestone soil in the oldest vineyards, which means that the yields are low. This makes the wine all the more appealing. It is characterised by eloquent complexity, with an intense taste and an unusually dark colour for a Pinot Noir.

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LIVING WINES
FROM
LIVING VINEYARDS

Hanspeter Lampert

Interview

Leaving space for nature in the vineyard and the cellar. What does this mean to you?

For us, leaving space for nature in the vineyard means consistent, species-rich greening on a sustainable basis, the avoidance of herbicides and insecticides, the breakup of monoculture by means of hedges, wild shrubs and trees, and support for bird populations. In the cellar, it means that we don’t use fining measures. We give our wines the time they need to mature and we prefer to ferment with natural grape yeasts instead of pure yeast cultures, as far as possible. Less is more.

What do you think makes a good Pinot Noir? What is important for the cultivation and vinification of the Pinot Noir grape?

Good Pinot Noir vines are playful, elegant and highly complex plants with a delicate fruit. The grape is highly sensitive to errors in the vineyard and the cellar. Pinot Noir needs vineyards that are warm but not too warm, light and limy soils, and cool nights during ripening. This makes Graubünden an ideal region for Pinot Noir. For high-quality wines, the yield must be significantly reduced most years. The time of ripening is key for Pinot Noir: it shouldn’t happen too early and certainly not too late, otherwise the flavour loses its elegance and the delicate wines acquire too much alcoholic content.

You also grow international varieties such as Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Why is that?

Maienfeld has very stony soil. Each time the earth is worked, some of these chunks are brought to the surface. Over the centuries, these stones have been used to wall in the vineyards. It is too warm for Pinot Noir along the walls and slopes, which is why Syrah and Cabernet were planted there. These varieties thrive splendidly. We harvest Merlot from a very small plot that is too warm for Burgundy varieties.

If you were to rebuild your winery from scratch, is there anything you would do differently?

We would design a larger cellar right from the start. Our current cellar has been at full capacity for a long time, with barrels stored all over the place. As a matter of principle, all our red wines are kept in wood barrels for at least one year. This requires a huge amount of space.

HANS-ANDREA PATT

Organic eggs from Arosa for breakfast

The best days start with a great breakfast. And good eggs are simply a staple of a good breakfast. HansAndrea Patt from Castiel – one of the last villages of the municipality of Arosa – supplies us with wonderful organic eggs on a weekly basis. Some large, some small, some light, some dark and all delicious. Our laying hens thank us for their stress-free, freerange lifestyle free from chemical-synthetic additives with top-quality healthy eggs.

SENNEREI MARAN

Cheese from our neighbours

Sometimes you can smell a delicate waft of cheese here at Hof Maran if the wind’s blowing the right direction.

Our supply route couldn’t be shorter! We collect Alpine cheese, soft cheese, cream cheese, yoghurt and gloriously creamy Alpine butter ourselves using a trolley – all 100% CO 2 -neutral.

The Alpine dairy belongs to the civil community of Chur and buys milk, sometimes via a “pipeline”, from the four cattle Alps Maran, Prätsch, Sattel and Carmenna.

Hundreds of herb varieties, luscious meadow pastures, wonderful air and crystal-clear water make the milk, cheese and butter so deliciously tasty and healthy. Alpine cheese is only produced in summer – when the cows on the Alp are on holiday.

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SONNENRÜTI FARM BUTCHER’S

For the love of animals

You can’t miss the Sprechers’ farm on arrival in Arosa by car. One flying visit is all it takes to see that this Alpine farming couple’s priority is their close connection to the animals. Natural livestock breeding and stress-free slaughter on-site are important to them. Thanks to local processing and direct distribution, the Sprechers can connect to their customers on a personal level and have peace of mind that they are delivering meat of outstanding quality. In the winter months, they use time-honoured traditional methods to produce raw sausages and dried meat specialities. Their ancestral vocations, her a chef and he a butcher, suit them very well in this respect.

Bio Natura Beef comes from 10-month-old calves that graze on the Alpine meadows in summer before being fed with only milk and hay in an open group pen in winter – no growth-enhancing additives. The calves stay with their mother until slaughter.

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OUR WINE-PRODUCERS

PINOT NOIR

You don’t need to go to burgundy to find a great pinot noir. The winegrowers of graubünden have upgraded and made quality the number one priority at their small vineyards. Reduced yields, manual vine and soil maintenance, eco-friendly vineyard cultivation, modern vinification in cellars and growing typical regional grape varieties are a matter of course for many winegrowers in graubünden.

PELIZZATTI

Character wines

Annatina Pelizzatti has had a strong connection to winegrowing ever since she was a child and now runs a vineyard spanning four hectares. Her unconventional wines are very distinctive and anything but mainstream. Her red wines captivate with their elegance and spiciness. Her white wines are fresh with a pleasant but pronounced acidity. Our secret tip: Annatina Pelizzatti has been working on a small wooden cask blend of Pinot noir, Syrah and Merlot for a few years. The Sorso is a complex wine with a unique spiciness and notes of dark fruits.

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LAUBER

Third generation

The vineyard and quality fruit business Gut Plandaditsch has been in the Lauber family since 1928. Grandfather Ernst Lauber, an industrious fruit grower and winemaker, was one of the first to specialise in the white wines Pinot gris and Freisamer. Nowadays, the Laubers grow a range of different grape varieties across four hectares and press six white wines and three red wines. Our secret tip: the Lauber Pinot gris is one of the best Pinot gris in the region – and has been for a long time. The Laubers always succeed in giving their wine an abundance of substance and body and a wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity. Our unconventionally elegant choice when it comes to Pinot gris.

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STÄGER

In harmony with nature

Anyone who knows Markus Stäger can tell you he’s a man of few words. He prefers to let his wines speak for themselves and that they most certainly do. Markus Stäger and his family work their vineyards in harmony with nature. They produce wines typical of the location taking into consideration terroir conditions like soil, climate and weather. And all by hand – in the vineyard and in the cellar. Our secret tip: S88, produced by Markus Stäger, is an exciting sweet wine with fruity, floral notes and a wonderful acidity. Incidentally, S88 refers to the code of the grape variety Scheurebe, a hybrid produced in 1916 by the crossing of Riesling and Bukettraube (Bouquet Blanc).

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MOUNTAIN POTATOES

History

Because they couldn’t make a living from growing standard commercial potato varieties in a mountainous area, in 2003, Marcel and Sabina Heinrich Tschalèr started to grow ProSpecieRara potatoes on a plot 1’000 metres above sea level. Then, in 2005, after their first significant crop yield, they launched a huge pota – to farming festival, the Patati-Hoffest. In the valley by chance, former top chef Freddy Christandl got wind of their idea. He went, ate – and drove back home with a few bags of these crazy potatoes. He was really excited, and the guests who came to the restaurant where he cooked with the mountain potatoes were delighted.

Soon the potato crop yields at the farm Las Sorts were greater than the demand from customers in the region. Marcel Heinrich started looking for ways to get this unique product onto the plates of interested chefs and potato-lovers throughout Switzerland.

When Freddy Christandl found out about Bergkartoffeln (mountain potatoes), he knew that this delicacy was too special to be sold as a mass market potato. He had just started his own business, combining his passion for cooking with an apprenticeship as an experience consultant. On a whim, he decided to take a portion of the Heinrichs’ harvest off their hands. Initially, the spuds were transported from the farm Las Sorts to Freddy‘s garage in Schindellegi by cattle truck and from there to the customer using his car.

The farmers and chef decided to continue working together after that. Together, they gradually got the project Bergkartoffeln aus dem Albulatal (“Mountain potatoes from the Albula valley”) on its feet. Thanks to his contacts from the restaurant scene, Freddy quickly found buyers throughout Switzerland – not least because he wanted to impress sophisticated high-end chefs with his culinary knowledge.

“Mountain potatoes from the Albula valley” is now an innovative project, worlds away from the mainstream and engineered processes. Marcel and Sabina Heinrich Tschalèr can now concentrate fully on the growing process while Freddy Christandl ensures that the spuds reach plates across Switzerland – using a fair and sustainable approach. After all – even in Switzerland – fair prices for farmers form an important basis for outstanding products and innovation.

To preserve the old varieties and knowledge of mountain arable farming for future generations, the duo have partnered up with Patrick Honauer and some top chefs and experts to found the Kartoffelakademie (potato academy) and have set up a support fund for it, which is now accepting voluntary donations.

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Almost every variety has its own character, its own taste and often its own texture too.

Marcel and Sabina Heinrich Tschalèr, Freddy Christandl (from left to right)
Photo: Tina Sturzenegger

Portrait

Former chef Freddy Christandl has made a name for himself in Switzerland as an experience consultant using his specialist expertise and (life) experience. He discovered Marcel and Sabina Heinrich Tschalèr’s mountain potatoes in the Albula valley in 2005. These particularly aromatic varieties are never far from his mind – and he also now dedicates his time to the Kartoffelakademie. The academy was conceived as an opportunity for producers, chefs and consumers to share specialist expertise.

The academy has three primary focuses:

The preservation of varieties: “Connoisseurs, agron – omists and chefs don’t always have the same interests when it comes to this,” explains Christandl.

Manual skills are also key: growing ancient varieties organically in mountainous regions requires an un – believable amount of know-how.

Cooking techniques: the third aspect is teaching cooking techniques, because mountain potatoes have a different cell structure, and cooking properties and the saturation value are different as a result.

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