Introduction

By Lisa Rowlands

One of the smallest in size of the 26 cantons which constitute the Swiss Confederation, Geneva surely ranks amongst the largest in terms of its influence and impact on the world stage. From its renowned watchmakers - Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Rado and Breitling are all represented here - to its master chocolatiers, CERN nuclear research centre and status as an ‘international city of peace’, this area of Switzerland excels in both upholding old traditions and pushing new boundaries.

The region is surrounded on practically all sides by France, and the influence of its neighbour - owing both to close proximity and history - is prominent, most notably in the language and gastronomy of the region but also in its being the first Swiss canton to introduce a French-style appellation system to classify wines. Despite its relatively small size, Canton Geneva is Switzerland’s third largest wine-producing area with around 1400 hectares of vines planted around the city and the western tip of the lake (known locally as Lac Léman). Unlike the wine regions of Vaud and Valais, the terrain here is less steep and lower in altitude, presenting fewer obstacles for growers and affording the widespread use of modern techniques. Nevertheless, the topography of canton Geneva, a patch of land that is sandwiched between the Jura and the Alps, presents its own unique challenges and rewards for producers.

Although it is not widely regarded as a wine city, viticulture has been an important part of life in Geneva and the surrounding area for two-thousand years. Today the canton’s vines are divided into three officially named, geographical sub-regions:- Entre Arve et Lac (between the river Arve and the lake), Entre Arve et Rhone (between the rivers Arve and Rhone) and Le Mandement (literally ‘the commandment’!) - an area immediately to the west of the city which includes the vineyards of Satigny - Switzerland’s most prolific wine-producing municipality. Of the three sub- regions, Le Mandement is by far the largest and most well known, accounting for around two thirds of the canton’s vines.

Subzones of Geneva