The Amigne Path - Vétroz The Grands Crus - www.amigne.ch

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THE AMIGNE WINE PATH

Vétroz did not become an independent commune until 1862, after nearly two millennia as a dependence of the commune of Conthey. One can only too easily imagine that the division of the land was far from painless. As far as the vineyards are concerned, Conthey retained the upper portion of the slope, while the lower slope (up to 640 meters in altitude) and the plain (the southern portion of Balavaud and the area around the Botza).

The Amigne Wine Path covers a distance of 2.7 km. made up entirely of paved road presenting no particular difficulty to the walker. The circuit takes about 45 minutes to complete.

It was created by the commune of Vétroz and the United Vinegrowing Winemakers of Vétroz, and was inaugurated on June 3, 2005.

Every year on the first weekend of June the Festival of the Flowering Amigne takes place here. On this occasion the winemakers present their products to the public in a relaxed and celebratory atmosphere.


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1. THE PRIORY VINEYARD

The winemakers of Vétroz are in the best position to become specialists of the Amigne grape. To this end, they decided to create an Amigne Conservatory in the Priory Vineyard. Here experiments in vine cultivation are conducted with the objective of enhancing our knowledge of this local treasure, the Amigne.

Several stone-slab tombs can be found in the vineyard of Monsignor the Prior. They are situated below the plot containing the diverse clones of the Amigne, and date from the second Iron Age, between 450 and 454 B.C.

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2. MUR DE MENGE

Ampelographic description of the Amigne vine

The vine shoot is beige, tinged with violet, pruinose, with nodes of a very pronounced violet hue. A vigorous variety, the Amigne has from medium to large leaves, rounded in form and slightly bullate without pronounced indentation. The underside is pubescent and the edges turn slightly downward. The lower leaves of the vines begin to yellow from the edges once they have reached maturity. The Amigne ripens about three weeks later than the Chasselas. The varietal is highly susceptible to coulure and millerandage. The bunch is medium to large, very elongated, loose and multi-branched. It has a very long peduncle. The berries, slightly ovoid, are green with golden highlights.

This wall was painted by the school children of Vétroz. The project undertook to "dress" the base of the concrete retaining walls (prohibited today) with a design created by the Valisian painter Charles Menge - hence its name.

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3. RESERVOIR

Vétroz enjoys a privileged position where the winds are concerned as well. The air is well circulated in the region by winds that are on the gentle side.

Rainfall is another important climatic factor. Central Valais is one of the driest regions in Switzerland with an average of only 579 mm of precipitation annually, measured at Sion.

The slopes of Vétroz enjoy remarkable southern to southeastern exposure to the sun. The average gradient of 38 percent increases the intensity of solar radiation, considerable even without it. In fact, the slopes of Vétroz and the summit of Balavaud are classed in the "very warm" zone on the thermal map of Switzerland. The annual foliage period falls in a range between 235 and 245 days.

Formations of marl, limestone, schist, and calcareous schist make up the essential bedrock here; this is covered by a layer of ancient lateral moraines left behind by the Rhodanian glacier that once extended over all of the Valais and beyond.

This, together with the clay and limestone composition typical of marl, accounts for the increased erosion wherever this sedimentary rock dominates. The presence of frequent "combs" is a sure sign of marly bedrock.

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4. PLACE DES EPINETTES

The unique quality of the soils of Vétroz is due above all to the presence of black Dogger shale, made up of marine sediments deposited some 160 to 170 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic period (also called Dogger). This characteristic rock of the Vétroz slopes is very conducive to viticulture. Its dark color stores warmth like a rechargeable solar battery, while the mineralogical clays of the rock play the role of a storehouse for water and mineral elements.

The principle rocks that make up the soils of Vétroz are also found in the vineyard walls. On your left you will find one in which the different rocks are labeled by name.

The Roman origins of Vétroz have never been in doubt among historians due to the objects dating from the period that have been found here. It is then no surprise that the Amigne, also, is thought to have distant Roman origins!

Vétroz did not become an independent commune until 1862, after nearly two millennia as a dependence of the commune of Conthey. One can only too easily imagine that the division of the land was far from painless. As far as the vineyards are concerned, Conthey retained the upper portion of the slope, while the lower slope (up to 640 meters in altitude) and the plain (the southern portion of Balavaud and the area around the Botza).

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5. TORRENT D'AVEN

The Amigne is a distinctive and unique variety, as recent DNA research has clearly verified. This ancient white varietal was in all likelihood brought here by the Romans. The vitis aminea finds mention in the third volume De re rustica, by Columella. Because of the Amigne, the Valais can claim a tradition of viticulture extending over two millennia. Few winegrowing regions can boast as much.

The microclimate created here by the stream is conducive to the development of numerous deciduous trees. You will find many of them named on the trunks in the surrounding area.

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6. TORRENT DU MOULIN

The Grands Crus of Vétroz
Relations among the winemakers of Vétroz are, generally speaking, very good. This unity allowed for the creation of the United Vinegrowing Winemakers of Vétroz in 1989. Under the current president, André Fontannaz, its members played a major role in the definition of Regulations for the Grands Crus of Vétroz, approved four years later by the Valisian State Council. Vétroz thus became only the second viticultural commune in the Valais (after Salquenen) to adopt such a system of regulation.

On the wall below you, numerous exogenous rocks (labeled) give witness to the transportational power of the Rhodanian glaciers.

In the area above and on the eastern side of the little bridge that crosses the gorge of the Moulin, archeologists have discovered tombs made of slabs of schist and containing two vases each.

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