Vineyard Terraces in Lavaux (World Heritage)

The vineyard terraces in the canton of Vaud extend over 30 km along Lake Geneva. The cultural landscape with its terraces that have been in use for centuries and its villages, buildings and paths documents the long tradition of viticulture in the region.

Vineyard terraces in Lavaux: facts

Official title: Vineyard terraces in Lavaux
Cultural monument: Wine-growing area in the canton of Vaud between Lausanne and Montreux on slopes to the south on the north bank of Lake Geneva with numerous top locations; six controlled areas: Lutry, Villette, Saint-Saphorin, Epesses, Dézaley and Chardonne; most important white wine variety Chasselas (Gutedel); Red wines Gamay and Pinot Noir; Site with 14 communities on an area of ​​approx. 9 km² (5.7 km² of vine plantations); difficult cultivation on steep slopes on approx. 10,000 terraces with approx. 450 km of stone walls, transport by rail; The beginning of the local viticulture probably in the 12th century by Cistercian monks; Trademark of the wine of the »three suns«: direct, intensive solar effect, energy reflected by the lake and energy stored and released again in the stone terraces
Continent: Europe
Country: Switzerland
Location: Canton of Vaud, western Switzerland
Appointment: 2007
Meaning: Unique cultural landscape of impressive beauty; exceptional testimony to a thousand years of wine cultivation under difficult conditions; Example of a targeted promotion, development and preservation of viticulture with outstanding quality results and outstanding regional importance

Pampered by three suns

From the northeastern bank of Lake Geneva, in the canton of Vaud between Lausanne and Montreux, the magnificent Lavaux vineyards rise up like a gigantic fortress. A fascinating jumble of walled vineyards, alleys and wine-growing villages, which, despite or perhaps because of its jumbled appearance, fits perfectly into the already breathtaking scenery.

When the haze hangs in the vines early in the morning and you let your gaze wander down over the steep wine terraces to the deep blue glittering lake and further to the snow-capped peaks of the Savoy Alps, you inevitably get raved about this picturesque sight. The beguiling charm of Lavaux seems to be carried over to the wines that mature here: Epesses, Saint-Saphorin or Dézaley are not only three of the more than a dozen atmospheric wine-growing villages of Lavaux, but also the designations of origin of fine branded wines valued by wine lovers. Especially with the gold-colored white wines made from the Chasselas grape – known in Germany as Gutedel – Lavaux has gained its good reputation among wine lovers. In addition to the Fendant from Valais, the very dry and often heavy Chasselas wines are among the best-known Swiss white wines. But not only numerous white wines are grown, but also reds, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Gamay.

Here in Lavaux, wine culture is cultivated like hardly anywhere else. Visitors who follow the marked nature trails and circular routes of the “Route du Vignoble” are led right into the middle of the vineyards and on their exploratory tour certainly do not come across unused terrain or unkempt vineyards. It seems that the whole life of the residents revolves around the vines. Even the houses in the sometimes incredibly tiny villages are lined up close together so as not to lose any space for growing vines. And if you want to stop in one of the rustic wine cellars to taste the precious grape juice, you really have to be careful not to overlook it in the tranquil village.

You first have to taste the mostly fruity character of the Lavaux wines; But then the taste experience will be a truly intense one: Each of the wines made here brings out the particularly diverse soil conditions of the region. No soil is like the other and so grapes grow, the wines of which can reproduce nuances of clay, limestone or mineral soils on the tongue. The region’s Mediterranean climate does its part.

According to programingplease, The Lavaux vines are spoiled by three suns: First of all, there is the natural sun, often referred to as “Jean Rosset” by the locals, which pampers the grapes with its full power on over 300 sunny days a year. The reflection from Lake Geneva intensifies the positive effect – and finally the grapes also ripen and sweeten thanks to the stored solar heat of the stone walls, which support the slopes, some of which are more than 40 percent steep. This triple warmth is concentrated in the grapes, which are nowhere else so spoiled by the external conditions. A truly perfect interplay between nature and man, which began as early as 1142 when Benedictine and Cistercian monks began to gradually consolidate the steep slopes with walls and make them usable for viticulture.

Vineyard Terraces in Lavaux (World Heritage)