Switzerland’s Vevey among National Geographic’s hot destinations for 2019

The Swiss town of Vevey on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) has been honoured with a place on National Geographic's 'Best Trips 2019' list.

Switzerland’s Vevey among National Geographic’s hot destinations for 2019

The town in the canton of Vaud appears on the list alongside destinations as diverse as the Peruvian Amazon, the Australian city of Perth, and French Polynesia.

But the prestigious travel magazine hasn’t named Vevey as one of the world’s top places to visit next year because of its elegant seafront promenade, or because of its stunning views of the Alps, or even due to its connection with Charlie Chaplin (who was a resident for a quarter of a century).

Instead, National Geographic is highlighting Vevey because of the upcoming Fête des Vignerons (Winegrowers' Festival), which runs from July 18th to August 11th next year.

The stunning Lavaux wine region in Switzerland. File photo: Depositphotos

This Unesco-recognised event is Switzerland’s oldest and largest wine festival and – to make it even more special – it is held a maximum of five times every century.

Last staged in 1999, the Fête des Vignerons has its origins in the 17th century when the Wine Guild held a yearly pageant in Vevey, which is located at the foot of one of Switzerland's oldest wine-growing regions, the Lavaux.

Read also: 19 mildly interesting facts about Swiss wine

This developed into the first proper festival in 1797, held on the Place du Marché, which aimed to celebrate wine growing, encourage winegrowers to improve their techniques and reward the best vineyard workers in a coronation ceremony.  

Due to political unrest in the canton of Vaud, it wasn't until 22 years later that the next festival was held, starting the once-a-generation tradition that has held to this day. 


Do you live in Vevey? Want to tell us what you like and/or don't like about living there? Drop us a line here.
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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.