Traditionalism is at the heart of Valais viticulture
. The oldest grape varieties here, such as Amigne, Arvine, Cornalin, Humagne and Rze have been protected and preserved thanks to the efforts of a number of growers and producers. It is a testament to their flavour that many of the grape names appear on the bottles, whilst the norm is for the regional name or brand to take pride of place. Going a step further, twenty years ago the canton government implemented the Slection Valais, a programme designed to encourage and conserve the diversity of the grape varieties. Hundreds of rare vines are collected each year in order to local nurseries to cultivate and ensure their survival.
The best way to explore the wineries and vineyards is to walk the Wallis Wine Paths
. Opened in Spring 2007, the trail takes you from Martigny to Leuk, with plenty of pit stops for tastings and tours. Other highlights for aspiring sommeliers include the Valais Wine and Vineyard Museum
at the Chteau de Villa in Sierre, a historic building in which homage is paid to wine and its cultural influences, and expert wine-maker Albert Masson Zumofens chateaux in Salgesch, which documents the work of vineyard workers and the inspired production methods.