Les Coteaux du Soleil
On the Vineyard Trail
The Vineyard Trail takes you from Martigny all the way to Leuk along the Rhone valley. There are three possibilities: walk, bike or drive. A guidebook sold at the Tourism Office, explains the route and tells you all about the best places to eat, sleep or taste the wine specialties of the entire region. It is also an invitation to discover the winemakers and wine producers (or vintners). The Vineyard Trail is accessible all year round (weather permitting) and offers beautiful views of the Rhone Valley and the wine villages.
The path through the “Coteaux du Soleil” (Hillsides of the Sun)
The communes of Ardon, Chamoson Conthey and Vétroz are members of the Association of the Coteaux du Soleil. Together they contain 22% of the vineyards of the Valais. Although every commune has its own identity, they decided to create this link to facilitate the recognition of a region and better raise awareness of their local products.
Even though it is difficult to verify, some argue that the two keys that appear on the arms of Ardon are those of the cellar and the Kingdom of Heaven. It is true that the commune stretches from plains to heights that seem to touch the sky and contains treasure from its vineyards. Its terraced vineyards, which cover an area of 164 hectares, climb up to an altitude of 700m. Pinot Noir (37 hectares), Gamay (34 hectares) and Fendant (26 hectares) cover 60% of the surface of the Ardon vineyard. Fendant is mainly cultivated in terraces where soil has a high prevalence of calcium and minerals. Johannisberg is also one of the main varieties of grape, which covers 20 hectares, and the specialties occupy 47 hectares of the vineyard. These include the Petite Arvine, Ermitage, Humagne Blanche or Pinot blanc and red wines, the Humagne Rouge, Syrah, Cornalin and Merlot.
With its 380 hectares of vineyards, Conthey is the third winemaking commune of the Valais, after Chamoson and Sion. The vine has a long history as the Conthey wine was supposedly exported to the Bernese and Central Switzerland areas during the Middle Ages. “Here grows the best red wine of the country with a truly exquisite quality and yet also in large quantities. No other place in the country has this”, reflections from writings of 1815 (Dr Hildebrand Schiner).
The gap between the lowest points situated in the alluvial plain of the Morge (468m) and the highest (940m) causes differences in the maturity of the grapes ranging from 7 to 15 days.
The Conthey vineyard benefits from calcareous soil and has over 30 varieties of grape (46% white and 54% red). Fendant dominates by occupying 33% of the area. Pinot Noir (25%) and Gamay (12 %) follow it. Chardonnay, grown all over the world, also occupies an important area. This variety of grape arrived in the Valais in the 1980s and is used in the production of sparkling wines.
The rest of the vineyard is occupied by various specialties of white wine such as Petite Arvine, Païen, Malvoisie and Amigne as well as red wine such as Syrah, Humagne Rouge and Cornalin.
The vineyards of Vétroz have an area of 172 hectares and extend over the lower hillsides ("1st zone") as the area above belongs to the commune of Conthey. To a lesser extent, it also covers the alluvial cone of the Lizerne in Balavaud
The vineyard benefits from soil comprising of black shale, which is formed of marine sediments, deposited 160 to 170 million years ago.
There are about twenty varieties of grape in this vineyard. The Amigne flourishes in the very specific soil of the Vétroz vineyard and is incontestably its queen (16% of the area). The trio Fendant (23%), Gamay (21%) and Pinot Noir (18%) are also present in great quantities. Some white wine grapes such as Petite Arvine, Johannisberg, Muscat, Ermitage or Malvoisie and other red wine grapes such as Syrah, Cornalin, Gamaret or Humagne Rouge also grow in the vineyard.
L’Amigne, emblème de Vétroz
The vineyards of Vétroz can boast about having a rare treasure: the Amigne. There are a total of 38 hectares of this unique variety of grape worldwide, all planted in Valais, of which 30 are in Vétroz. This white grape with Roman origins yields a dry, semi-dry or sweet wine. In order to assist the consumer in his choice, the vine growing winemakers of Vétroz introduced an obligatory indication of the residual sugar content on the label. The symbol is the bee (one bee means that the residual sugar content is 0 to 8 grams per litre, two bees means 9-25 g/l and three means over 25 g/l).