Booze-related auto deaths tied to wine areas

The Swiss canton that produces the most wine in Switzerland is also responsible for the highest rate of alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, new figures show.

Booze-related auto deaths tied to wine areas
Image from Valais wine promotion poster (detail). Photo:

Switzerland’s accident prevention bureau (BFU) reported that 21.1 percent of such accidents last year were booze-related in the canton of Valais, known for its vineyards.

The second-highest rate of alcohol-related accidents was recorded in Geneva (13.9 percent), followed by Neuchâtel (13.2 percent), Vaud (12.8 percent) and Ticino (11.9 percent).

All of these cantons, mostly French-speaking, except for Italian-speaking Ticino, are known for their wine production — and wine consumption.

According to the BFU, one in four residents in French-speaking Switzerland (Suisse Romande) believes, incorrectly, that the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.5 percent is only achieved after drinking three or four glasses of wine.

By comparison in German-speaking Switzerland, which accounts for about 65 percent of the population, only one in ten people share this mistaken view.

While the French-speaking part of Switzerland accounts for only 23 percent of the country’s population, almost half of the 78 deaths from motor vehicle accidents caused by drunken driving between 2011 and 2012 occurred in Suisse Romande

An analysis of federal statistics by the Tages Anzeiger newspaper noted 37 of the deaths occurred in French-speaking Switzerland, while two occurred in Ticino and 39 in German-speaking cantons.

The newspaper notes that 11.5 percent of residents in French-speaking areas drink regularly, compared to 6.3 percent in German-speaking cantons. 

Overall, Switzerland ranks among the top 10 countries in the world for per capita consumption of wine.

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What is Switzerland’s ‘one franc vineyards’ scheme – and is it legit?

When news broke of vineyards being offered in the southwest of Switzerland for one franc, many asked if it was too good to be true. Here's what you need to know about the scheme (and how much a vineyard will actually cost you).

What is Switzerland's 'one franc vineyards' scheme - and is it legit?

Earlier in Spring, news broke of a new scheme where Swiss vineyards were available for just one franc. 

As with similar stories offering one franc plots of land or houses, the news spread far and wide – which of course was the point – while some eventually became disappointed. 

READ MORE: Gambarogno: The latest Swiss village to sell houses for one franc

While it’s likely to cost you a good deal more than one franc, if owning a Swiss vineyard (or at least part of it) is on your bucket list, you now have an opportunity to do so. 

Why are Swiss vineyards going cheap?

With nearly 5,000 hectares of vineyards and 60 different grape varieties, Valais is Switzerland’s largest wine-growing region.

Unfortunately, 20 percent of the canton’s vines are abandoned and municipalities must uproot them because they can’t find people willing to cultivate them.

A case in point is the community of Savièse, nestled in a picturesque Alpine valley. About 120 plots — four to five hectares — of  its vineyards were abandoned by their owners and therefore not harvested last year, as the commune can’t find people to do the work.

This is a serious case of neglect because “when a vine is not pruned, there is a period of one year to uproot it. Otherwise, there is a risk of spreading disease”, according to Savièse’s mayor, Sylvain Dumoulin.

“There are some vines where we need to do this now, and I fear the number will increase in the future”, he added.

How much does a plot cost?

In order to protect its winemaking traditions in general and abandoned plots in particular, the municipality has launched a new vines-saving project which includes a “stock exchange” of sorts for the sale and purchase of abandoned parcels.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to drink wine like a Swiss

Dumoulin didn’t reveal the cost of a plot of vineyard, as it depends on its location, condition and other factors.

Unfortunately, while you may have seen articles reporting that parcels are being sold for “a symbolic one franc”, this is more than likely a marketing ploy to attract attention than a realistic price.

Savièse’s vineyards. Screenshot, Saviè

“The main long-term objective is to encourage the grouping of plots and thus the rationalisation of the exploitation of these parcels”, Dumoulin told The Local.

He added that currently the project is “exclusively accessible for people who already own vineyards. But from July it will be open to anyone with an interest in purchasing vineyard areas”.

From then on, “anyone can download the application to find plots of vines for sale and to make their owner a price proposal”. 

The app, called “Vignoble Savièse” can be purchased in Apple or Google stores.

One example of such a gimmick was the Ticino town of Gambarogno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, which offered houses for one franc.

‘Impossible’: Why Switzerland’s one franc homes are too good to be true

As The Local reported, “the news – along with pictures of the Ticino countryside and the lake itself – spread across the globe, with people inside and outside of Switzerland letting themselves dream”. 

However, the “rustic houses with the view of the lake” turned out to be nothing more than ruins, with no roofs, windows, electricity or running water, situated in remote locations — about an hour’s walk from the nearest village.