Heading home this morning from physio I took the road from Crans-Montana to Sierre, past the vineyards of Corin and other villages, on the north side of the Rhone. Here you see the south-facing slopes, which get a healthy dose of sunshine all winter.
The sun is finally rising above the mountains in this spot, but only at 10:45. Many of the north-facing valley vineyards will have far less sun throughout the shortest days of winter, at least one-sixth of the year. Clearly, different grape varieties and techniques for caring for the vines are called for, even though these vineyards are geographically very close. The valley bed is quite narrow here.
Last week, en route to Geneva, the sun was rising late over some of the vines in Saillon and Fully; you can see clearly the long shadow cast by these south-side Alpine ridges, which are much further away than the ones near Sierre and Corin. The Rhone is widening here and the valley bed is larger, but at 10:00 Fully and its beautiful vineyards were still in the cold shadows.