Viticultural area: Valais Canton

Associated viticultural areas Switzerland Switzerland Valais Canton Valais Canton
Valais Canton

The Canton fo Valais

Vineyards in ValaisThe Romans introduced vine-growing into the Valais Canton. During the subsequent conversion to Christianity vineyards flourished. Initially vines were grown in order to make the region self-sufficient. The development of means of transport at the end of the 19th century opened up Valais to the rest of Switzerland and the cereals grown on the slopes gradually gave way to vineyards, exploiting the extremely favourable climate. The phylloxera crisis that struck Valais in 1906 led to local vines being replaced with more productive varieties (Chasselas, Sylvaner and Gamay) and new growing techniques being adopted. The Valais vineyards, which suffered many crises, reached its maximum extension in 1993. After these events, the Swiss market became more competitive and the Valais vinedressers reacted by bringing local vines back into fashion.

Facts and figures
Total wine-growing area of the Valais Canton. (ha.)

5,137

Total wine-growing area on difficult terrain
(altitude, steep slopes, terracing) (ha.)

3,955

Area with slopes > 30% (ha.)

1,191

Area at an altitude > 500 m above sea level (ha.)

5,137

Area terraced (ha.)

1,503

Maximum altitude of the vineyards (m above sea level)

1,100

Area of vineyards on difficult terrain

Martigny / Martigny-Combe / Fully / Visperterminen / Chermignon / St-Léonard / Lens / Sion / Ardon / Vétroz / Saillon / Nax / Vernamiège

(Data updated to 2006)

Subdivision of the area

71% of the holdings work plots less than 0.2 ha; this situation can be found on 22% of the area. A further 25% of producers have between 0.2 and 1 ha; making up 45% of the area. 3% of the wineries have holdings between 1 and 3 ha on 22% of the total area. Only 1% of the producers cultivate over 3 ha; this accounts for 11% of the area.

Wine-growing landscape

The layout is in terraces supported by dry stone walls. In the relatively continental conditions of central Valais and with permeable soils it is sometimes necessary to irrigate vines. A vast network of open channels (les bisses) carries the water from mountain streams to the plots.

Main vines

White grapes:

  • Chasselas
  • Sylvaner
  • Petite arvine
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot grigio
  • Moscato bianco
  • Amigne
  • Humagne blanc
Black grapes:


  • Pinot nero
  • Gamay
  • Humagne rouge
  • Syrah
  • Cornalin
  • Diolinoir