Thursday, June 28, 2007

Switzerland's Lavaux Vineyard Region Named A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Lake Geneva Region of Switzerland announced today that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee named the Lavaux Vineyards a registered World Heritage site. The Committee met in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday and announced the decision this morning.

Lavaux is in the heart of the Lake Geneva Region, or canton of Vaud, on the shore of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), in the French-speaking part of Western Switzerland. It is one of Vaud's five centuries-old vineyard regions. While not the largest producer, Lavaux is by far the best-known. Distinguished by its light, crisp white wines as much as for the picturesque landscape, the region is characterized by steeply terraced vineyards dotted with medieval villages and panoramic views across the lake to the French Alps.

Lavaux produces world renowned wines such as Epesses, Dézaley, Lutry, Villette, Chardonne and Montreux-Vevey, many of which are found in some of the best restaurants in the U.S. Chasselas is the predominant grape. The terraced growing conditions in Lavaux are distinguished by the "three suns"; the light refracted and warmed by the sky; the lake; and reflected light off the pudding stone walls.

On September 22, the Association for the Registration of Lavaux, the local committee that worked on the bid for the UNESCO registration, will celebrate the prestigious designation with a special Lavaux Festival, a celebration of the region's traditional Vaudoise wine and food organized around the theme of "5 Senses, 5 Appellations." The Festival will take place in villages throughout the Lavaux region. For more information, go to

The Lavaux villages and vineyards date back to the Romans who first planted grape vines in the area. The vineyards of Dézaley still bear the stone foundations that were laid out in the Middle Ages by the Monks of Montheron. Lausanne, Montreux and Vevey are the gateway cities where some of Switzerland's grand palace hotels still reign among the world's most luxurious accommodations. A wide range of affordable hotels throughout the region offer remarkable value, while retaining all of the traditional hallmarks of Swiss quality, including a hearty breakfast and a warm goose down duvet. The region is the leading producer of exceptional artisan cheeses and one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-star restaurants in Europe. It is no surprise that the Lake Geneva Region has attracted a long list of celebrated authors, artists and composers, including Lord Byron, Nabokov, Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan, Noel Coward, Audrey Hepburn and countless others. For more on the Lake Geneva Region hotels and attractions, click here.

In September, Switzerland Tourism will launch an international campaign under the theme of "Gastronomy and Wine." Anticipating increased interest as a result of the UNESCO announcement, The Lake Geneva Region Tourist Office has produced a new brochure on the same theme, which features the specialties of the Lake Geneva Region. Unusual products, AOC labels, activities, events, useful addresses and portraits will be included. An English language version of the publication will be released in August.

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