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The Canton of Valais in Switzerland produces more than a third of the country’s wine. A hotspot for any travelling oenophile, it is undoubtedly a famous and historic region.
The Valais is the most important wine producing area of Switzerland with more than 20,000 vignerons and 5000 hectares. The thirteen alpine valleys and their vineyards all converge on the Rhône river, stretching almost 120 kilometres, with the vines flourishing mostly between 450 and 800 metres in altitude. The unique microclimate of Visperterminen even reaches an altitude of 1100 meters and ranks among the highest in Europe, mirrored and surpassed only by the Italian vineyards of the Aosta valley, just on the other side of the Matterhorn.
The alpine climatic influence and varying soil types are omnipresent factors. At various altitudes and locations limestone, granite, schist and loess can be found. It is no surprise, given the diversity and uniqueness of the terroir, that many and varied indigenous varieties thrive. The Valais’ wine region is so special, that the variety sometimes takes pride and place on the label instead of the winery or winemaker.
The Valais is famous for its Fendant, the traditional white wine accompaniment for Raclette cheese made from the Chasselas grape. The more recognizable red wines made from Pinot Noir and Gamay are also abundant and highly sought after, constituting 31 and 12 percent respectively. There are also 125 distinct appellations in the region, again reflecting the tradition and terroir that make this famous wine region in sunny Switzerland so exceptional.