Switzerland’s most important wine canton
Occupying part of the southwest corner of Switzerland, the sun-soaked and exceptionally dry region of the Valais runs along the Rhône River near its source high in the Alps, encompassing over 5,000 hectares worth of mostly south-facing slopes and constituting 40% of Switzerland’s total wine output. As in other regions, Fendant (the local term for Chasselas) is widely planted, with smaller surfaces of lesser-seen white varieties like Petite Arvine, Johannisberg (Sylvaner), and—a specialty of the commune of Vétroz in which we work with several growers—the noble Amgine. Gamay and Pinot Noir predominate for reds, often blended and bottled as Dôle, a Swiss specialty. Most slopes here are quite steep, up to 90% in gradient, with many terraces hewn from the mountainsides over the ages.