Mighty mountains pile up in the Valais, a small trickle drips down the valley from the Rhône glacier and from Brig onwards, viticulture begins - fed by mountain water and scorching sun. The Valais wine-growing region is one of extremes; this is evident not only from the highest vineyard in Europe, but also from the surprising number of indigenous varieties.
Valais - the somewhat different Rhône valley
For many people, viticulture in Valais is an unknown quantity - not for the people of Valais itself. For thousands of years, vines have thrived in the dry climate. And although the Valais is now the largest wine producer in Switzerland, the wines from often side businesses are usually drunk locally. Thanks to the growing demand for Dôle du Valais wines and Fendant wines in particular, fine Swiss wines are gradually migrating from the Valais to the rest of the world.
Viticulture in Valais
The Canton of Valais in southwestern Switzerland, with its approximately 5,000 hectares of vineyards, is the largest wine growing region within the Swiss Confederation. The vineyards are mostly located at 450 to 850 metres above sea level and are lined up along the still young Rhône. On terraces and steep slopes with a gradient of up to 70%, around 60% red grapes and 40% white grapes are grown. Besides often autochthonous grape varieties such as Humagna rouge, Petite Arvine or Cornalin, international varieties such as Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir also grow in the vineyards. The latter varieties are the key to the Dôle du Valais, an AOC wine that originates exclusively from the Valais.
The highest vineyard in Europe is also found in the canton and wine-growing region of Valais. Vesperterminen's location between 650 and 1,150 metres above sea level is characterised by narrow terraces and retaining walls and invites you to enjoy unique walks.
Soils & climate
Alpine - this is a good way to describe the Valais landscape. The valley where the wine grows and flourishes is surrounded by mountains of over 4000 metres in height. Too high for rain clouds, which rarely stray into the valley. Although continental climate prevails, the days are very hot, even summer droughts occur. For this reason, the winegrowers use an ingenious system of canals to irrigate their vines with glacier water. The warm foehn that blows through the valley also exerts its influence on the vines.
Glacier faults form the basis for the cultivation. Alluvial deposits in the lower valley extend the soil portfolio, so that the great diversity of varieties gives rise to numerous variations and individual products - not least because of the more than 600 producers, all of whom have their own ideas for viticulture. For some of them, the cultivation of wine is only a sideline, so that large wineries buy up the grapes and vinify them.
Dôle du Valais and Fendant du Valais
Dôle du Valais
The Dôle is probably the most famous Swiss wine and a speciality that can only come from Valais. The cuvée of at least 85% Pinot Noir and Gamay, with Pinot Noir making up the greater part, bears the name of the French town of Dole. As an AOC-certified wine, strict guidelines are applied from cultivation to the finished product. In addition to 85% Pinot Noir and Gamay, the red wine cuvée consists of another 15% of grape varieties such as Syrah or the autochthonous vines Humagne Rouge and Cornalin. Of course, only grapes from the Valais may be used and vinified for the Dôle du Valais.
The Dôle expresses expressive aromas of juicy red berries. A series of fine spices and floral notes continue the ripe aroma until the long finish balances the pleasure.
Fendant du Valais
The Fendant grape variety is better known in the German-speaking world as Gutedel and in France as Chasselas. In the Valais, it is vinified dry and cultivated on a large scale as AOC Fendant du Valais. The young and varietal Valais white wine exudes clear aromas with fine nuances of the local terroir. With sweetish fruit and balanced acidity, the Fendant presents itself with a strong character for the Valais. And of course the Fendant goes well with medium-strong cheeses.
The grape varieties of the Valais
In the vineyards from Brig to Martigny, about 60% red grapes and 40% white grapes are grown. The main variety is Pinot Noir, followed by Chasselas.
Red grape varieties
- Pinot Noir
- Humagne Rouge
White grape varieties
- Savagnin blanc
- Pinot Gris
Buy wine from Valais online
Discover the Valais wines in the VINELLO online shop and wander through a very special wine region. Order wine from Valais and other national and international wine regions cheaply and easily online. We will send your wine securely packed and wherever you want. Thanks to numerous payment options and sommelier advice, you will experience a relaxed wine shopping experience on VINELLO. It's just a few clicks away. À vorte santé!