I have several passions: fine food, amazing wines, climbing and travel with my lovely partner Scarlet. It is a rare day when I can combine all these passions. Recently Scarlet and I found a place where all these passions can be experienced–Ticino, Switzerland. It is an amazing place where rock, soil, temperature, weather comes together to make a paradise for climbers and epicureans. Scarlet and I stayed at the Tre Terre in Ponte Brolla and enjoyed several merlots and succulent food.
Ticino, The Wine:
Ticino is Switzerland’s southern most canton (state). It is the only canton located entirely south of the Alps. Surrounded by Italy on two sides, it is also Italian speaking. Switzerland’s 5th largest canton, 2,800km2 (692,000 acres), it is also its 3rd largest wine producing region. Considering that Ticino borders the Italy provinces of Piedmont and Lombardy, it makes sense that Ticino has lots of vineyards. The canton is split geographically in two parts by the Monte Ceneri pass. The northern, more mountainous part, called Sopraceneri, is formed by the two major Swiss valleys around Lake Maggiore: Ticino valley and Maggia valley. The southern part, called Sottoceneri, is the region around Lake Lugano. Both regions are home to many vineyards.
As a result of its more southerly position it is one of the warmest cantons in Switzerland and as such a provides an ideal environment to grow its most important varietal, Merlot. Most indigenous grapes were wiped out with the phylloxera disease. One indigenous varietal worth mentioning is the Bondola. Its Mediterranean climate allows for palm trees to grow.
The soil varies from acid soil in the northern part to limestone in the southern part, with some local geographical variation.
Ticino claims a record number of both sport and trad climbing areas on granite and gneiss in the Alps (around 70 places), featuring a wide choice of cliff faces and long routes. Ticino is thus one of the most popular places for free climbing in the entire Alpine range.