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Regions

Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

Wine regions in Wallis/Valais 1 growing regions

Description to Wallis/Valais

Third largest canton of Switzerland with the capital Sion (french: Sion). In 2007, scientists at the University of Basel discovered that vines were already being cultivated here between 800 and 600 BC. Today, the vineyards extend over 50 kilometres from the German-speaking Upper Valais to the French-speaking Lower Valais along the Rhône at an altitude of 450 to 650 metres above sea level. Those of Visperterminen in the Upper Valais are even considerably higher at 1,100 metres. The Riebe vineyard there is the highest vineyard in Central Europe. The majority of the vineyards are located on the right bank of the Rhône, facing south from Martigny to Leuk. Smaller areas are located between Lake Geneva and the Rhône knee near Martigny. The vineyards on steep slopes, bordered by high walls, are mostly terraced, some of them as so-called "tablars" cut horizontally into the slope. Due to the extreme inclination, some areas are among the steepest vineyards in Europe. Limestone, gneiss, slate and alluvial soils predominate.

Wallis - Weingärten bei Sitten

Valais is one of the six Swiss wine regions. The vineyards cover 5,236 hectares. They are characterised by around 60 different, mostly autochthonous grape varieties, with only four of them accounting for almost 90% of the area. These are Fendant(Chasselas), Pinot Noir, Gamay and Silvaner with more than half. Together with the neighbouring Italian Aosta Valley, a geographical island is formed with a variety of very old, autochthonous grape varieties, known as old vines. Traditionally for Switzerland, the white wines are still partially subjected to malolactic fermentation. The traditional red wine Dôle is made from Pinot Noir and Gamay. A rarity are the so-called 36 Plants, which are wines made from (formerly actually 36) different grape varieties. A speciality are sweet late harvests (here also called Flétri) with a potential alcohol content up to 20% vol. Above Sierre, the glacier wine (Vin des Glaciers) comes from the Val d'Anniviers (Eifisch Valley).

In 1993, Valais was the first canton to introduce the AOC appellation system. Individual sites are classified as Grand Cru by municipal regulations, with even higher requirements than for AOC. The Grand Cru sites must have AOC status. The following AOC municipalities exist: Ardon, Ayent, Chamoson, Conthey, Fully (Grand Cru sites), Grimisuat, Lens, Miège, Saillon, Salquenen (in German Salgesch) Savièse, Saxon, Sierre, Sion, St-Léonard (Grand Cru sites), Varen, Venthône and Vétroz (Grand Cru sites). Around 22,000 winegrowers, some of them very small owners with only a few hectares of vineyards, produce around 40% of Swiss wine. These are 60% white wines and 40% red wines. Among the best-known wine producers or trading houses in Valais are Bonvin, Domaine du Mont d'Or, Favre, Gay, Germanier, Gilliard, Imesch, Johanniterkellerei, Mathier Albert, Nouveau Salquenen, Orsat, Provins Valais, Rouvinez, Varone and Vins des Chevaliers.

Picture: From Vheritier, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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