By Lisa Rowlands

Positioned between the lakes of Geneva and Neuchâtel, the appellation extends across more than twenty villages and communes, each with its own unique character and history. There are around 170 hectares under vine here, with two thirds shared by the four municipalities of Arnex, Orbe, Rances and Valeyres-Sous-Rances, and the remaining third strewn in small parcels, along the banks of the river Orbe and the beautiful landscape of the Yverdon-les-Bains region.

The location of Côtes de l’Orbe affords the appellation the climatic effects of both maritime and continental weather systems. Although in the shadow of the Alps and the Jura mountains, with a generally southern aspect the vines here experience a wealth of sunshine and less precipitation than in most other parts of the Vaud region. And the proximity of lakes Geneva and Neuchâtel - as well as the river from which the appellation takes its name - ensure that summer temperatures are moderated and spring frosts reduced. Soils of alluvial clay present a mineral-rich and fertile fabric for wine-growers whose yield is dominated by red varieties Pinot Noir and Gamay, and the omnipresent, indigenous white grape, Chasselas.

A tradition since Roman times, wine cultivation is an important part of this region’s cultural heritage, as well a master brush stroke on its visual landscape. Here at the western edge of the Swiss Central Plateau, the rows of vine and geometric fields of fertile farmland, with the occasional spotting of a village or manor home, create a patchwork canvas of unparalleled beauty. And the wines of the appellation - crisp, elegant whites, fresh, fruity rosés and rounded reds with a hint of spice, are also something worth savouring.