Located within the canton of Vaud along the shores of Lake Geneva, Lavaux and its terraced vineyards offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Aside from the views, there are dozens of other reasons that make Lavaux an idyllic location to visit for the Winetraveler. In this guide, you’ll learn what makes it so special, in addition to some of the best wineries to visit in Lavaux to make the most of your travel experience.
Lavaux Wine Tasting & Travel Guide:
- Terraced Vineyards
- How To Get To Lavaux
- Best Wineries
- Grape Varieties
- More Things To Do
- …and more
Lavaux’s Terraced Vineyards
The UNESCO Terraced Vineyards of Lavaux are a world-renowned example of a centuries-old method of cultivating wine on steep hillsides using terraces. These terraces were built by local farmers between the 11th and 12th centuries and have been continuously maintained since then. You can find them on the north shore of Lake Geneva, between the towns of Lausanne and Montreux, and they cover an area of about 830 hectares (2,050 acres).
Lavaux is known in the wine world for its unique microclimate, which is influenced by the lake and the nearby mountains. The terraces provide optimal exposure to sunlight, as well as protection against strong winds, making it an ideal environment for growing wine. The dry stone walls also blend seamlessly with the natural landscape, creating a stunning visual effect. Aside from its dreamy vineyard-scapes, Lavaux is home to many charming towns and villages that are worth exploring. The town of Vevey, for example, is known for its lively market and beautiful lakeside promenade. The village of Saint-Saphorin is another must-visit destination, with its narrow streets and traditional Swiss architecture.
Lavaux’s terraced vineyards produce high-quality wines, particularly from the Chasselas grape, which is the region’s most widely planted grape variety. This white grape thrives in the region’s rocky, mineral-rich soil and produces a wine that is delicate, crisp, fruity, refreshing, and perfect for pairing with a variety of local alpine and lake cuisine. The region’s winemakers take great pride in producing wines that reflect the unique terroir of Lavaux, and it’s not uncommon to detect mineral undertones on the palate.
Perhaps most interestingly for us active travelers, Lavaux is a beautiful region to explore on foot. There are many hiking trails that wind through the vineyards, offering breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Walking through the vineyards also gives visitors the opportunity to see the grapevines up close and learn about the winemaking process. While hiking and exploring on your own is certainly an option, we do suggest hiring a local driver and guide who can more efficiently help you navigate the region. Alp Transfers & Switzerland Tours offers customizable day trips that can be arranged in advance, which include stops at some of the region’s best wineries, viewpoints and restaurants.
If you aren’t already sold, Lavaux is a great travel destination for foodies. The region’s cuisine is influenced by French, Swiss, and Italian traditions, and local restaurants are adept at serving up delicious dishes that pair perfectly with the region’s wines. Visitors can enjoy everything from simple cheese and bread platters to gourmet meals featuring local ingredients, like freshwater fish and wild mushrooms.
Long story short, Lavaux is a beautiful wine region that offers visitors a unique combination of stunning natural beauty, rich history, and delicious wine and cuisine. Whether you are a wine enthusiast, a hiker, a history buff, or a foodie, Lavaux has something to offer everyone. It’s the ideal destination that embodies the Winetraveler spirit.
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How to Get to the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces
By Air: The nearest airport to Lavaux is Geneva Airport. It is located approximately 60 km away from the region. From the airport, you can take a train to Lausanne or Vevey and then connect to the regional train that runs along the vineyards. Alternatively, you can rent a car or take a taxi from the airport to Lavaux.
By Train: Lavaux is well connected by train. The two main train stations that serve the region are Cully and St-Saphorin. Both stations are located on the main line that runs from Lausanne to Montreux. You can take a train from Geneva, Zurich, or Bern to Lausanne, and then switch to the regional train that runs along the vineyards.
By Car: If you are driving, the A1/E25 highway runs along the northern edge of Lavaux, making it easy to access the region by car. However, it is important to note that the roads in Lavaux are narrow and winding, so it’s best to drive cautiously.
By Boat: You can also reach Lavaux by boat. Boats run along the shores of Lake Geneva, stopping at various towns along the way, including Lausanne and Vevey. From there, you can either walk or take a train to the vineyards.
In terms of preferred modes of transportation, the train is the most convenient and popular option for traveling to Lavaux. It is also the most environmentally friendly method. Driving can be a bit tricky due to the narrow and winding roads, and parking can be a challenge, especially during peak season. However, if you prefer the flexibility of having your own vehicle, renting a car is still a viable option. Lastly, taking a boat is a unique and enjoyable way to reach Lavaux, especially during the summer months when the weather is good.
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Best Wineries to Visit in Lavaux
Domaine Croix Duplex
Domaine Croix Duplex is a winery that embodies the best of Swiss winemaking, with its stunning location, expertly crafted wines, and welcoming atmosphere. Set amidst the breathtaking vineyards of Lavaux in Switzerland, this winery offers visitors an opportunity to experience the very essence of Swiss wine culture.
Founded in 2007, Domaine Croix Duplex is a relatively new winery, but it has quickly established itself as a leader in the region. The winery is committed to sustainable, organic winemaking practices, and its dedication to quality is evident in every bottle.
The vineyards of Domaine Croix Duplex are carefully tended to by hand, and the grapes are harvested at the perfect moment to ensure maximum flavor and aroma. The winemaking process is carried out using traditional techniques, and the resulting wines are complex, full-bodied, and rich in character.
Visitors to Domaine Croix Duplex are welcomed with open arms, with knowledgeable and friendly staff on hand to guide them through the winemaking process. The winery offers a range of tasting experiences, from intimate cellar tastings to grand events held in their beautiful outdoor terrace. And for those who wish to take a piece of Domaine Croix Duplex home with them, the winery’s boutique is stocked with a selection of their finest wines, along with a range of accessories and gifts. Travelers are also permitted to take a leisurely stroll through the vineyards.
Domaine du Daley
Founded in 1392, Domaine du Daley is one of the oldest wineries in Switzerland, and its storied history is evident in every corner of the estate. From the stunning medieval tower to the atmospheric underground cellars, visitors can immerse themselves in the rich heritage of this venerable winery.
But it’s not just history that sets Domaine du Daley apart – the winery’s commitment to excellence is evident in every aspect of its winemaking process. The vineyards are carefully tended using sustainable, organic practices, and the grapes are handpicked to ensure only the finest fruit is used in the winemaking process.
Once the grapes have been harvested, they are carefully sorted and processed using modern techniques that preserve the natural flavors and aromas of the fruit. The resulting wines are complex, elegant, and full of character, each one a testament to the skill and expertise of the winemakers at Domaine du Daley.
Visitors to the winery can experience the magic of Domaine du Daley firsthand, with a range of tours, tastings, and events on offer. Whether you prefer an intimate tour of the underground cellars, a guided tasting of the winery’s signature wines, or a grand event in the beautiful outdoor terrace, there is something to suit every taste and preference.
The winery also boasts a delightful bistro where visitors can sample some of the region’s finest cuisine, perfectly paired with a selection of Domaine du Daley’s exceptional wines.
Cave de la Côte
Nestled amidst the picturesque vineyards, the Cave de la Côte winery is a true gem of the region. Renowned for its rich history, stunning scenery, and exceptional wine, this esteemed winery has captured the hearts and palates of wine enthusiasts from across the world.
With a heritage dating back to the 1920s, Cave de la Côte has long been a cornerstone of the Swiss winemaking industry. Their commitment to crafting high-quality, authentic wines using traditional methods has earned them a reputation as one of the finest producers in the country.
The winery’s location in the heart of the Lavaux vineyards only adds to its allure. Set against a backdrop of rolling hills and shimmering Lake Geneva, the winery offers breathtaking views that perfectly complement the exceptional wines on offer.
Cave de la Côte is also well-known for its service and hospitality, with knowledgeable and friendly staff on hand to guide you through the winemaking process. From the grape to the bottle, visitors can witness every step of the winemaking process, gaining a deeper appreciation for the art and science behind creating the perfect blend. With a range of reds, whites, and rosés on offer, Cave de la Côte’s wines are characterized by their elegance, complexity, and balance. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a newcomer to the world of fine wines, the wines are sure to impress.
Domaine Henri Cruchon
Domaine Henri Cruchon is a winery that captures the essence of Swiss winemaking, with its impeccable quality, stunning location, and warm hospitality. This family-owned winery has been producing exceptional wines for over 60 years, and is considered one of the top wineries in the region. Not unlike many of its neighbors, the winemaking process at Domaine Henri Cruchon is carried out with meticulous attention to detail, using sustainable and organic practices.
The winery offers a range of tastings and tours, from intimate cellar tastings to guided vineyard walks. This winery is also ideal for visitors looking to have lunch or an afternoon snack, with a bistro on site that serves traditional Swiss cuisine paired with its wines.
This boutique winery is situated in the village of Cully and offers stunning views of the lake and the vineyards. It produces a range of wines, including Chasselas, Pinot Noir, and Gamay. Visitors to Domaine Bovy are treated to a truly unforgettable experience, with a range of tastings and tours available that cater to all levels of wine enthusiasts. The winery offers a range of events throughout the year, from wine and food pairings to outdoor concerts, making it a perfect destination for any occasion.
This winery is also certified organic, and their dedication to preserving the natural beauty of the region is evident in everything they do. From the vineyards to the winemaking process, every step is taken to ensure that the wines are not only exceptional in quality, but also reflective of the unique terroir.
Recommended Tours of Lavaux
While Lavaux can be self-navigated, many of our readers prefer to work with local guides and experts to have a more authentic experience and not have to worry about planning or driving. If this sounds like you, we have a few tour suggestions that our readers frequently rave about.
Take a guided walk through the terraced vineyards with our friend Marc of Drink Moi. From his sense of humor to his exceptional local knowledge of the region and its wines, you’ll have a grape time. Be sure to ask to stop at his favorite viewpoints for photos. You’ll have the opportunity to taste the local wine, cheese and snacks to get your day started, while also stopping at some of the region’s best vineyards for more complete pairing experiences throughout the day.
It’s not always all about the wine. Take a full-day private Cheese and Chocolate tour from Geneva to expand your knowledge of the region’s cuisine. This includes hotel pickup/drop off. Visit the Maison Cailler chocolate museum and the medieval town of Gruyères and to experience a traditional Swiss cheese shop. End your day with an aperitif in Lavaux overlooking the vineyards before being dropped back off at your hotel.
The Cuisine of Lavaux
Cuisine from the heart of the Swiss Riviera boasts a rich culinary tradition that reflects the natural beauty and bounty of the region. It’s characterized by its focus on fresh, local ingredients, with an emphasis on seasonal produce, regional cheeses, and the freshest catches from nearby Lake Geneva. The dishes are masterfully crafted by skilled chefs who have a deep respect for the region’s culinary heritage, and who are constantly pushing the boundaries of traditional cooking to create innovative and exciting new dishes.
As we mentioned before, there is a historic intermingling of cuisine with the region’s wines, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors and textures that delight the palate and leave a lasting impression. From creamy fondues and rustic meat dishes to delicate seafood and fresh vegetables, the cuisine of Lavaux is a veritable feast for the senses. The flavors are bold, the textures are rich and varied, and the presentation is nothing short of artful.
Some of our favorite dishes to be on the lookout for during your visit include:
La Perche: This dish consists of freshwater perch, which is a staple of Lake Geneva. The fish is typically fried and served with a side of potatoes, and is often accompanied by a sauce made from white wine and shallots, giving it a distinctive Lavaux flavor.
Le Papet Vaudois: This is a classic Lavaux dish that is made with potatoes, leeks, and sausages. The potatoes and leeks are boiled together and then mashed, creating a creamy texture. The sausages are cooked separately and served on top of the mashed potatoes, making for a hearty and comforting meal.
La Cuchaule: This is a traditional Lavaux bread that is made with saffron, giving it a bright yellow color and a distinct flavor. It is often eaten for breakfast, and is typically served with a slice of Gruyere cheese and a cup of coffee.
La Tarte Tatin: This dessert originated in France but has become a popular dessert in Lavaux. It is a caramelized apple tart that is typically served warm and is often accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The tart is made with a flaky pastry and a generous amount of caramel, giving it a sweet and decadent flavor.
Les Meringues: These are a classic Swiss dessert that can be found throughout Lavaux. They are made by whisking egg whites and sugar until they form stiff peaks, and then baking them until they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Typically served with a side of whipped cream or a fruit compote.
Grape Varieties Cultivated in Lavaux
This is the most widely planted grape variety in Lavaux and is often referred to as “Fendant” in other regions of Switzerland, especially Valais. It primarily yields crisp and refreshing white wines with citrus and mineral-esque tones.
This is the most commonly planted red grape variety in Lavaux, and it is used to produce light to medium-bodied red wines with classic notes of red fruits and spice.
Used to produce light-bodied red wines with juicy red fruit flavors typically crafted to be consumed while young.
This grape variety is grown in smaller quantities in Lavaux and is used to produce full-bodied white wines with notes of tropical fruits and oak.
Used to produce medium-bodied white wines with notes of ripe tree fruit, citrus and hints of spice.
Other grape varieties that are cultivated in smaller quantities include, but are not limited to, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Viognier.
More Things To Do in Lavaux
At Winetraveler, we believe that wine is just one component of a travel experience. Here are some of our favorite things to do beyond just exploring the terraced vineyards.
Take a cruise on Lake Geneva
This is a perfect way to soak up the stunning beauty of Lavaux from the water. Board a traditional paddle steamer and sail across the tranquil waters of Lake Geneva, with the vineyards on one side and the majestic Swiss Alps on the other.
Visit the medieval town of Vevey
Located at the heart of Lavaux, the charming town of Vevey boasts of medieval architecture and history, and is home to various galleries and museums, including the renowned Chaplin’s World museum. Take a stroll along the promenade or explore the quaint cobbled streets, and discover the hidden gems of this beautiful town.
Indulge in Swiss cheese and chocolate
No trip to Switzerland is complete without indulging in the country’s signature cheese and chocolate. Lavaux is home to some of the finest Swiss cheese and chocolate makers, and a visit to a local cheese factory or chocolatier is a must-do for food lovers.
Hike the Swiss Alps
The Lavaux region is surrounded by the Swiss Alps, making it a perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts. Explore the scenic mountain trails and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. There are plenty of hiking options to choose from, ranging from gentle walks to challenging treks.
Relax in a thermal spa
After a long day of exploring, unwind and relax in one of Lavaux’s many thermal spas. The region is famous for its natural hot springs, and many spas offer a range of treatments and therapies that will rejuvenate and revitalize you. Les Bains de Lavey is one of the largest thermal spas in Switzerland, and offers a unique experience with its large outdoor complex of heated pools and exceptional on-site restaurant.
Frequently Asked Questions about Lavaux Wine Tasting
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I really enjoyed this article as it brought back memories of my visit in 2012. My friends and I visited the Lavaux Vinorama in Rivaz which is excellent. Apart from viewing a very informative video presentation A year in the vineyards, we got to taste a number of wines from different wineries. A good option if you don’t have time to visit individual wineries.
what a picture!!! wow!