For members


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?
You too can do your part to save Valais wines. Photo by Rodrigo Abreu on Unsplash

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. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Why Switzerland is paying producers to sell gourmet wine on the cheap

Switzerland’s wineries will receive 10 million francs from the government to repackage their gourmet product, unsold due to the coronavirus lockdown, and sell it as cheaper table wines.

A glass of red wine next to a winery. Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

Switzerland’s Department for Economic Affairs, Education and Research said on Wednesday it would be establishing a multi-million franc fund to assist the Swiss wine industry which has been decimated by the coronavirus crisis. 

A 10 million franc fund will be set up to encourage makers of gourmet or luxury wines to repackage their product for sale as cheaper wines. 

The wines have received the ‘controlled designation of origin’ (appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC)) designation, which applies only to wines which have complied with strict geographical and production standards. 

READ: 19 mildly interesting facts about Swiss wine 

The wine, usually sold in restaurants and bars, can cost in the hundreds of francs, but has failed to sell due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

It is expected to be sold as table wines or to be used in the food industry. 

A great time to be a Swiss table wine enthusiast. Photo by mali maeder from Pexels 

How will the scheme work? 

From June 1st, the fund will be made available to winemakers in all Swiss wine-growing cantons. 

A total fund of CHF10 million will be made available from the Federal Council – but the government has encouraged individual Swiss cantons to chip in more in order to ensure all wine growers are protected. 

Winegrowers will receive CHF2 for each litre of downgraded wine with an AOC designation. 

The financial support will be divided proportionally to the vineyards of the cantons, thus creating the same conditions for all Swiss wine producers. 

In addition to the CHF10 million fund, additional money has previously been made available to wine growers for sales and promotion.

In order to receive the funding, winegrowers will also be required to reduce the maximum yields for the 2020 harvest. A maximum of 1.2 kilograms per square metre for white wine and 1 kilogram for red wine per square metre will be allowed.