Lavaux in Vaud, Switzerland is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to 830 hectares of vineyards just 20 minutes by train from Lausanne. Slanted dramatically, these fields stretch about 30 km along the banks of Lake Geneva producing mostly Chasselas grapes.
Switzerland specializes in charming small regions but Lavaux ranges among the best. In the central village of Rivas, plump fuchsia roses spring from flower boxes in houses on narrow streets winding up the hillside.
“The beautiful geraniums in the windows and the very proud people in traditional clothes—that’s how life is like in the vineyards," says Tanja Dubas, my liaison with Lausanne Tourisme. “Lavaux is special, it’s dear to our hearts. We don’t produce enough wine to ship overseas so you have to come here. Actually, we just want to keep it all for ourselves!”
Dubas and I sip a couple of the hundreds of bottles of wine in the main room of the Lavaux Vinorama—a small discovery center for the region.
Then we stop at a tiny wine shop on a courtyard peeking over the wine fields to sample a bottle of 2008 Dézalay.
Back down by the lake, Auberge de Rivaz restaurant serves filets de perche meuniére (perch fillets) and amaretto vanilla ice cream doused with fresh cherries and Dézalay.
Flower-strewn branches in lattices above cut the sun, sailboats drift across the sparkling lake, and everyone's eyes are smiling.