The architecture in Lavaux testifies a great deal: the narrow houses of the winegrowers are compressed into villages in order to retain the necessary space for cultivation whereas the affluent buildings rise up from among the vines. This variety of settlements characterise the countryside of Lavaux.
Until the middle of the 20th Century the wine growers in Lavaux combined vine exploitation with farming. Many families added to their viticultural properties by owning properties throughout the countryside. The upstate owners would entrust the running of their vineyards to workers in exchange for hay, manure and canes from Jorat. Throughout this first half of the 20th Century, social evolution and economic pressures forced local inhabitants to choose between being a wine grower or a farmer or to leave land labouring entirely.
The viticultural villages such as Savuit, Aran, Grandvaux, Riex, Epesse and Rivaz spread across slight breaking slopes in the heart of the vineyards. Close to Vevey, Chexbres and Chardonne are a mixture of rural and viticultural landscapes as they lie on the boarder between vines and countryside. Outside of the villages, the “capites” (small isolated houses supported by the vineyard walls), the wine growers’ houses, the towers and the castles constitute the architectural testimony of the Lavaux viticultural activity.
Source : RAYMOND, Denise, « Ethnographie », in Lavaux, Vignoble en terrasses face au lac et aux Alpes, Lavaux World Heritage Site Application File for UNESCO, Cully, January 2006, pp. 89-92.