Lavaux: Picture perfect UNESCO vineyards

The view was more spectacular than any I had seen before. From our suite on the first floor of B&B Domaine du Burignon, shuttered windows opened wide onto a far-reaching panorama in myriad shades of blue, of the Savoy Alps reflected in Lake Geneva. Sweeping around the back of the property were neatly terraced vineyards of such a vivid green they could have been taken from a painting.

Lavaux, the stretch of land on the Swiss Riviera between Lausanne and Montreux, is famed for its grand cru wines. Its vineyards cover some 30km, their 10,000 terraces stretching over more than 40 levels. They have been worked since the 11th century, and were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. I didn’t think it was possible to find anywhere more beautiful than I had already seen in Switzerland, but here I had found it.

The steep slope of vineyards was green but for the crumbling terracotta wine villages dotted along the shoreline. Domaine du Burignon, one of the most delightful B&Bs I have encountered with spacious, artistic white rooms and a very friendly manager, is situated mid-vineyard just outside the prettiest of them all: St. Saphorin. A cluster of cottages built around a 15th century church, it looks as if it may slide into the lake – and is a dream laced with cobbled alleyways and steep stairwells to explore.

After a hearty continental breakfast on the B&B’s terrace (no need to describe that heavenly view again, I’m sure), we set off to explore the vineyards on foot. Trails lead from village to village, where there are wine cellars (or caveaux) open to the public. It was the Swiss National Holiday, so not many were open, but we did find a bakery where we ordered freshly squeezed orange juice and white wine and cinnamon tart.

It was a sweltering day, and there was no shade to be found – despite all the walls. So it was a relief to finally reach Cully, a beautiful shuttered town roughly mid-way along the shore, and jump on a belle epoque paddle steamer to return the way we had come while enjoying the breeze on the lake. It took us to an even cooler spot - the Lavaux Vinorama, a wine cellar-cum-visitor centre in Rivaz that is built into the cliff. Spotlights illuminated the bottles of wine lined up in shelves within the walls – ripe for tasting.

The Vinorama offers different wine tasting packages: I tried just a single glass of a white with base of Chasselas, the most prominent grape found in the area, while Tim tried a package with three different wines. We inevitably ended up leaving with a bottle. That evening we walked into St. Saphorin for a dinner of day-fresh perch at the Auberge de l’onde, enjoyed in candlelight at the foot of the medieval church.

As we later climbed back up to the B&B (the going is steep), we passed a party gathered outside one of the wine huts, sipping their nectar and chatting jovially, their voices just audible over the roar of the nearby waterfall – oh, bon viveurs! As for us, we concluded our day with that view. Now it was cloaked in darkness, periodically illuminated by bursts of twinkling fireworks exploding to celebrate Switzerland. ‘Straight from a picture book’ is an expression so overused, but I can scarce think of a better way to describe Lavaux.
© Emmy in Switzerland | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig