In the basin of Lake Geneva there are three important poles Geneva, Lausanne and Vevey-Montreux in the middle of which is Lavaux. Throughout recent decades, the area has managed to face up to the demographic pressure from the two bordering agglomerations where many multinational companies have head offices. These added-value intensive companies are highly attractive to the more mobile, cosmopolitan, highly educated high-earners.
The intense pressure on Lavaux, particularly with regards to demand for land, was contained thanks to the Law on the Protection of Lavaux in 1979. It led to controlled urbanisation, protection of the integrity of the vineyards and the preservation of the quality of the historical villages within the core zone. This urbanisation mainly impacted on the “buffer zone”. Inhabitants making a living from farming or viticulture are relatively scarce in Lutry, Cully, Corseaux and Jongny. Within every other commune, however, the situation improved and gained progressive stability after the decline in primary sector jobs during the 70s.
Nowadays, more than 75% of workers are active in the service sector compared to 49% in 1970. Lavaux, however, remains a prosperous viticultural hub. Economic activities within the municipalities within the core zone are still strongly influenced by wine production; the vines are emblematic. Approximately 50% of primary sector workers in Lavaux comprise of wine-growers whereas this number falls to 10% for the rest of the Canton of Vaud. Crucially, this figure does not take into account the large number of wine merchants within the areas. Currently, the area’s viticultural surface covers the same area as in 1970 (702 hectares).
Source : PILLOUD, Vincent, « Socio-économie », in Lavaux, Vignoble en terrasses face au lac et aux Alpes, Lavaux World Heritage Site Application File for UNESCO, Cully, January 2006, pp. 93-112.