Although generally mountainous, Switzerland also has many hilly regions, which are ideal for planting vineyards, with the area in the south-west especially, around Lake Geneva, the perfect climate for grapes to strive. Covering roughly 800 hectares, Lavaux is the largest contiguous vineyard area in the country, and its terraces have been protected by UNESCO since 2007. The product of these vineyards is equally protected – so much so, you won’t be able to taste the amazing wine produced in Lavaux elsewhere.
The vineyards in Lavaux produce a grape called Chasselas, which yields a white wine that is crisp and easy to drink, perfect for even the hottest summer days. With no machinery and virtually no chemicals involved, the wine is only produced in small batches each year. Therefore, the small amount that is produced is too good to share outside the region. Tania Gfeller, the oenologist of Lausanne’s five wine-growing estates, says she hopes that ‘the wine production of all five of the city’s estates will be biodynamic in the future’.
To taste wine from the Lavaux region, you’ll have to travel to the area – and this region is worth the journey both for its wine and its natural beauty. Overlooking Lake Geneva, the vineyards are dotted with century-old stone farmhouses and are considered to be some of the most scenic in the world. The area can be explored by taking a small train, but the best way to enjoy it is on foot: the Swiss Wine Route, stretching from St-Saphorin to Lutry up and down the vines, is a must-do, especially for those who love wine and nature. The trail is an easy walk with panoramic views, lined with small wineries and wine bars, which are perfect places to enjoy a glass or two of chilled Chasselas.
Chasselas and the wine route are not the only reasons to visit this stunning area: nearby Lausanne is also a wonderful destination and an equally great place to enjoy the local wine. The city has also now been named one of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network. A lively and happening university town, Lausanne features many great places to eat, from easy-going bistros to fancy gourmet restaurants, as well as bars, lounges and clubs. From Lausanne, many Belle Epoque paddle steam boats sail the waters of Lake Geneva, offering an alternative way to admire the steep vineyards, all while sipping on a good glass of local Chasselas, of course.
The Lavaux region stretches between Lausanne and the Montreux Riviera, and the latter is a wonderful place for a stroll. Artists, politicians, poets and musicians have loved and been inspired by the area, and the Rencontres & Inspiration route offers the chance to explore the Montreux Riviera while learning more about its illustrious guests: along the way you will find benches to enjoy the picturesque scenery, and at each one you can view anecdotes and exclusive multimedia content by downloading the Rencontres & Inspiration guide on your smartphone or tablet.