Word of Mouth: Lavaux Vineyards
One of my favorite places in the world is the Lavaux Vineyards, which overlook Lake Geneva. What really sets this area apart, from the standpoint of someone who finds it ideal for walking, eating well and consuming local wines, is the setting. These are steeply terraced vineyards punctuated by medieval villages, with panoramic views across the lake to the French Alps. I never get tired of the view, which changes constantly depending upon the mood of the lake and the sky.
So the good news is that the Lavaux Vineyards have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. This may well bring more visitors to an area that most Americans know little about. After all, this isn’t the Switzerland of the Alps and Heidi villages. Lavaux is in the heart of the Lake Geneva Region, the canton of Vaud, on the shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman), in the French-speaking part of Western Switzerland. It is one of Vaud’s five vineyard regions, planted centuries ago. As for the wine, the grape is chasselas, the wine is white, light and fruity, and the best of the best include Epesses, Dezaley, Lutry, Villette, Chardonne and Montreux-Vevey.
You can stay lakeside in a palace hotel in Lausanne, Montreux and Vevey, civilized places where the likes of Nabokov, Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan, Noel Coward and Audrey Hepburn lived at one time or another. Or find a little pension and save your Swiss francs for a multi-course meal. After all, the area has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. And the balmy and beautiful lakeside is ideal for a long lunch in a little village like Cully or St. Saphorin. For more info, go to the Lake Geneva Region