The World's First Mountain Air Sommelier Wants to Take You on a Hike
Go ahead, get a good whiff.
Patrick Stebler wants to help you get a breath of fresh air — and tell you exactly how to savor every note and flavor in it.
The award-winning perfumer from Chur, Switzerland, is teaming up with the Graubunden region to offer one-of-a-kind tours as the world’s first Mountain Air Sommelier.
Each month, Stebler will host tours around the Graubunden mountains to help guests uncover the unique scent of the region, from its distinctly crisp morning summer scents in its verdant valleys to its calming, resinous top notes found in the lush forests. On the tours, Stelber will also share all the different factors that go into the region’s particular scent, including air quality, altitude, temperature, and humidity.
Related:This Glamorous Train Lets You Eat Your Way Through the Swiss Alps
Hiking tours include one through Vals to “breathe in a wide range of antique wood aromas,” with stops at the historic Lärchaboda barn and at Hotel Restaurant Alpina for refreshments. There’s another tour through Surselva to visit a local beekeeper in Peiden, where guests can get a good whiff of the sticky-sweet honey. There's even a summertime tour option in Viamala to breathe in the “heavenly scent of berry bushes.” On this tour, guests will pick their own blueberries along the route, sniffing out the best ones along the way.
“I think the sense of smell is massively underestimated. It is the most important sense for me, but it is only perceived unconsciously,” Stelber shared in a statement to Food & Wine. “It is the most intense form of memory. The smells are stored in the cerebrum (limbic system) and can be evoked at any time. Furthermore, the limbic system is the center of emotions and feelings. Many beautiful things pass unconsciously through the nose, including love.”
While the tours are meant to help visitors connect more profoundly with nature through scent, there is still a delicious taste component to several of the tours, too.
As the Graubunden website explains, following the hike in Viamala, guests will sit down with farmer and Swiss Tavolata chef Regula Schmid for a meal made out of regional ingredients. And remember those blueberries guests picked earlier? They’ll be used for a bespoke dessert made after each trip.
The tours range from a few hours to all-day affairs and begin at $50 Swiss Francs per person. Translators are available upon request.
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