By dint of patience and perseverance, humans have shaped the uncultivated, scrubby hillside for thousands of years. They have transformed this rugged terrain into a majestic landscape of terraces and vineyards. Over the course of this transformation, techniques have evolved, but the original principle of cultivating terraced vines remains unchanged.
Humans were able to adapt to this hostile environment by making use of the threefold abundance of the sun: that of the sky, the reflection of its rays on the lake and the night-time release of heat stored in the vineyard walls. And above all, they never failed to respect the natural conditions imposed upon them: breaks in the slopes, climactic barriers and a natural boundary situated at 600m above sea level- below this the vines thrive but above only forests and pastures can grow.
These breaks in the slope are what form the upper limits of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lavaux. Establishing a site requires defining a perimeter. It is thus divided into two parts: a central zone that was the actual area nominated for inclusion, and a buffer zone surrounding it.
Facing the lake and the Alps, the central zone covers two districts, those of Lavaux-Oron and Riviera-Pays-d'Enhaut. It covers the territory of ten municipalities: Lutry, Bourg-en-Lavaux (which includes the former municipalities of Cully, Epesses, Grandvaux, Riex and Villette), Chexbres, Puidoux, Rivaz, Saint-Saphorin, Chardonne, Corseaux, Corsier-sur-Vevey and Jongny.
Winegrowers and farmers
The natural boundaries of the central zone are formed by Lake Geneva to the south, the forest and the break of the slope to the north, the Lutry valley to the west and the Vevey valley to the east. It is home to vineyards and winegrowing villages in its southern part, as well as several small woods. The buffer zone surrounds and protects the central zone. It is home to vineyards, woodlands and pastures, reminding us that winegrowers were, in earlier times, also farmers.
Source: "Description du Bien", in Lavaux, Vignoble en terrasses face au lac et aux Alpes, Dossier de candidature de Lavaux au patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO, Cully, Janvier 2006, pp. 15-16.
The area listed for inclusion
GEA J.-M. Vallotton et T. Chanard