Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lavaux Vineyard Terraces: Never thought the Swiss have wine!

When we think of gourmet Switzerland, what quickly comes to mind are cheese, chocolate, more cheeses and more chocolates... but... not wine? Definitely not wine. I’ve never really heard of Swiss wines, well, except for Lugano white wine in the Italian part of the country—understandable, but Swiss wine in general? N.A.H. The red wine I had for my only Swiss dinner of a portion of raclette was nowhere near satisfying. I think the Swiss should best keep their hands busy in the dairy and confectionery department.

Having said all that, I was really surprised to read about the ‘Lavaux Vineyard Terraces’ in Vaud. Facing Lake Geneva and the Rhone-Alpes of France, and stretching 30 kilometers of fantastic rolling hills of scenic vineyard terraces partitioned by prehistoric stone walls will leave any visitor passing through this exquisite wonder gaping in awe. This UNESCO world heritage site is simply breathtaking! My fotos and the video below will never do justice to its unique beauty.

Sighting the UNESCO world heritage Lavaux Vineyard Terraces in Vaud, Switzerland from the SBB (stop)train.

The ‘Chasselas’, a typical Swiss white wine grape variety is cultivated in this wine-growing region. It’s said that the landscape here was formed during the last ice age: 13,000 BC. Some of today’s winegrowers are direct descendants of the first wine growers that go back to over 17 generations of handed down skills in wine cultivation and trade.

Scenes from the train of the Lavaux vineyard terraces.

This is the little Villete village train station.

Lavaux has charming hillside villages as well: Lutry, Villette, Cully, Epesses, Dezaley, Saint-Saphorin, Rivaz, Chexbres, where the visitor can utilize any of the villages as a base to explore the vineyards. The SBB stop train stops at every village and although I was eyeing at Cully and Lutry to do some quick vineyard strolling, I got distracted by the pitiable weather, as well as my feet were aching from walking the whole time and thinking of an off-the-beaten-path-little-vineyard-hiking-trip is the last thing I can accommodate in this weary psyche.

In addition, and this is just to make myself feel better, haha, I convinced myself that I have already experienced being in the midst of a vineyard terrace several years back when I visited the Mosel in Germany, twice, first at Bernkastel-Kues (scroll down to Bernkastel-Kues part) and then at Muden (scroll down to Muden part as well). So, I stuck to watching the UNESCO world heritage vineyard terraces from the train. Four times. Back and forth.

For those interested to explore and experience Lavaux the easy touristy way, there are mini cog trains (Lavaux Express) that leave from Lutry, Cully, Saint Saphorin and Chardonne. There are as well wine tasting tours but I believe only during the weekend. A cable car to Chardonne can be boarded in Vevey. For details on schedules and times (take note: the mini trains don’t go everyday), please consult the local tourist office.

Travel Period: May 2010
Destination: Lavaux (Vaud), Switzerland

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