Vines suffered – but the wine is very good!
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The weather catastrophes in 2013 left a strong mark on canton Vaud’s vineyards, and now we have the statistics from the canton to prove it. Only 21 million litres of wine were made, a 28 percent drop compared to the average for the previous 10 years, and the lowest figure since 1981.
Hail was the main culprit, with two major storms that sliced through the middle of the canton, south to north.
Yields were down significantly, from 0.63 litres/m2 for Chasselas, compared to the average of 0.85 l/m2 for the previous five years.
The up side of catastrophe can be a great vintage
Nature’s insistence on low yields, and a 2013 season that ended well, meant that the wine produced in 2013 was good to excellent in Vaud, but not all producers were treated alike: some, notably in the Founex-Vinzel stretch and in the north end of the canton towards Neuchatel, suffered losses of up to 95% of their vines. Replanting and cutting some of the damaged vines back means they were hard hit financially for two to three years: it takes a new vine three years to start producing.
The canton’s statistical bulletin, Numerus, published figures this week showing that Vaud produced 15.2 million litres of white wine, 72 percent of the total, and 5.9m of red.
Vaud is the only one of the country’s six official wine production regions to make more white than red wine, and it is far and away the leading producer of Chasselas – 56% of all Swiss Chasselas is grown here, and 95% of Vaud’s white wine is from the Chasselas grape.
The grape originated in the region, DNA studies have shown, and it is part of the cultural fibre in Vaud, but changes are slowly arriving.
Changing face of grape varieties detailed with new stats
Vaud vignerons-encaveurs (grower-producers) began diversifying their vines in 2002, thanks to a federal aid programme. Today the vineyards in the canton are: 69% Chasselas, 10% Pinot Noir, 8% Gamay, 9% other local reds and 4% other local whites.
But the two main grape varieties, Chasselas and Gamay, have lost respectively 11% and 22% of their area since 2002. Reds are increasingly popular with producers, who need only look at the statistics: more than half of the wine consumed in Switzerland is red.
Gamaret and Garanoir, two disease-resistant grapes developed by the Changins Federal Research Station in the 1970s, have grown rapidly in popularity and together they now account for 20% of all reds planted in Vaud.
Vaud wine in numbers
Numerus provides a few more updated wine figures:
The canton’s agricultural surface area is 1,091 km2, of which 38 km2, o 3.5%, is vines.
Vaud has 25% of the country’s vineyards, after Valais (33%), but ahead of Geneva with 10% and Ticino with 7% of the total.
Vaud has eight AOC areas; the largest is La Côte, with 53% of all planted vines. It is followed in size by Lavaux, Chablais, Bonvillars, les Côtes
de l’Orbe, Dézaley, Vully and Calamin.
La Côte and Lavaux alone account for 70% of the wine produced. In 2013 the first produced 9.8 million litres, 47% of the canton’s wine production, and Lavaux 4.8 m litres, 23% of the wine.