Thanks to man’s patience and resolve, the uncultivated and overgrown hillsides were transformed into a majestic landscape made up of terraces and vineyards. Throughout this transformation, although the techniques of terrace cultivation had evolved, the fundamental principles remained unchanged.
The locals managed to adapt to a hostile environment taking advantage of the “triple sun” effect: the rays from the sky, the rays reflected from the lake and, lastly, the nightly release of heat captured in the vineyards walls during the day. However, more importantly, the locals respected the natural imposed conditions: breaks in the slopes, climatic barriers and a natural boundary situated at 600m above sea-level: below this the vines thrive but above only forests and pastures grow.
These breaks in the slope are what shape the upper limits of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lavaux. This required settlement of a defined territory. The protected area in Lavaux is split into two sections: a central zone (the one submitted to UNESCO) and a “buffer zone” which surrounds it.
Facing the lake and the Alps, the central zone spreads over two districts: Lavaux-Oron and Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut. The territory extends over 10 municipalities: Lutry, Bourg-en-Lavaux (which includes the ex-municipalities of Cully, Epesses, Grandvaux, Riex and Villette), Chexbres, Puidoux, Rivaz, Saint-Saphorin, Chardonne, Corseaux, Corsier-sur-Vevey and Jongny
Winegrowers and farmers
The limits of the central zone are naturally drawn by Lake Geneva to the South, the forests and break in the slope to the North, hilly Lutry to the West and Vevey to the East. The area comprises of vines, winegrowing villages and a few forest-covered areas in the southern part. The “buffer zone” then surrounds and completes the central zone. This area boasts vines, woods and pastures which reiterate that winegrowers were also previously farmers.
Source : « Description du Bien »,in Lavaux, Vignoble en terrasses face au lac et aux Alpes. Lavaux World Heritage Site Application File for UNESCO, Cully, January 2006, pp. 15-16.