The Canton of Valais has 5259 hectare of vineyard and is the biggest grape-producing regions in Switzerland. Most of the vine parcels are established on the slopes on the right Rhône banks on a length of 120 (!) kilometers from Martigny until Leuk. More than 50 different homologued A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) varietal are being cultivated on heights between 450 and 800 meters. In Visperterminen they even grow on a record height of 1100 meters. The strong involvement on the part of a number of growers, producers and oenologists coupled with the microclimate in the Valais and the strong regulations of the Canton, has helped place Valais among the great vineyards of Europe, with a growing reputation as one of the great vineyards of the world.
60% of the wine produced in the Valais is red wine. 40% is white wine.
List of the AOC wines (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), “controlled designation of origin”
Fully, Saxon, Saillon, Chamoson,Ardon, Vétroz, Contey, Savièse, Sion. Grimisuat, Ayent, Lens, Miège, Venthône, Les côteaux de Siere, Salquenen, Varen. The regions of Vétroz, St-Léonard and Fully have “Grand Cru” vineyars.
Geology is the most basic thing that contributes to the international reputation of Valais wines.
This is as rich as it is complex, linked to the emergence and development of the Swiss Alps.
Generally speaking, Lower Valais, the area from Martigny to Saillon, is mainly granitic, sometimes covered by loess–calcium deposits built up by wind–sometimes interwoven with limestone veins.
Higher up in the canton, the soil is extremely chalky, to a point where people refer to active limestone. This is an area that starts between Sion and Sierre and stretches to the Upper Valais, going as high as vines grow.
Between these two areas we find two types of soil: moraines, or the debris and rocks carried and left by glaciers; soils that are not deep and which sit on chalk or schist. This is sedimentary rock in layers that resembles slate.
Valais, sitting in the heart of the Alps, benefits from an exceptional steppes climate. The barriers formed by the mountains often hold back rain, creating warm foehn winds that sweep away the clouds, bringing fine weather and gentle temperatures.
Valais is Switzerland’s driest canton, with only 700 mm of precipitation a year. It is also, with 2,100 hours a year of sunlight, one of the most sun-blessed regions in central Europe. The dry foehn winds that are frequent in autumn dry the grapes, encourage them to ripen and help concentrate their sugar, all the while stopping gray rot. When the foehn doesn’t blow, local winds, usually from the side valleys, often serve the same purpose.
White: Chasselas, Müller-Thurgau, Chardonnay, Silvaner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Petite Arvine, Sauvignon Blanc
Red: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Merlot, Gamaret, Garanoir, Syrah, Humagne Rouge, Cornalin