Actual 45 mm size by Hans Frei, Biel
A beauteous Vigneron maiden of Valais appraises her finest produce with contentment and pride. The vines, as far as the eye can see, are heavy with the harvest of Pinot Noir, the King of grapes, the just reward of her labour of love and the toil of many.
Concealing her luscious mane of the hair, a diaphanous headscarf of silken threads spun by artisanal hands on the celebrated looms of Monthey.
This couplet blazon coat of emblems, one of Monthey’s strong oak tree, the other of proud Valais’ thirteen stars. Cradled lovingly by alpine roses in full bloom, a victorious bouquet bestowed upon the champions.
In the distance lies the townscape of Monthey capital within the valley of Rhone, beneath the Pennine Alps. Of unmistakable Sardinian neo-Gothic & neo-Romanesque architectural heritage is the Notre-Dame de I'Immaculée-Conception (its humble beginnings in 1707 and reconstruction finally completed in 1855). From within its elegant bell-tower, the church bells toll with impressive distinction.
Wine Growing in Canton of Valais
Valais is the largest wine region in Switzerland, and is responsible for almost half of the nation's total wine production. Located in the mountainous south-western corner of this small country, the main vineyard area of Valais runs east-north-east for 30 miles (50km) from Martigny to just beyond Sierre.
The vines here are owned and tended by an impressive number of independent vignerons – more than 20,000 – most of whom sell their grapes under contract or group together as co-operatives. A growing number of are now making and marketing their own wines, reflecting the forward-looking attitude of the Swiss wine trade and its increasingly commercial, export-driven focus.
Pinot Noir is king here and Valais-based plantings of the grape outnumber those of every other red variety in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Vertiginous alpine topography also gives the vines in Valais the advantage of emphasized vineyard orientation and many are planted on steep gradients of up to 90% (42 degrees). This steepness, although making it markedly harder to manage and harvest the vines, brings the significant benefits of excellent drainage and increased exposure to sunlight. In one particular valley just south of Visp, the village of Visperterminen perches on the edge of some extremely steep, west-facing slopes. At around 4750ft (1150m) these are some of the highest vineyards in Europe, although they are topped by those located just the other side of the Matterhorn in the Aosta Valley.
Of all largest wine makers this region, most Olden Helvetic lands Valais holds most ancient. Evidence, since of first ceramic bottle found true, with inscription that wine it did for once contained, laid since 2nd century in a Celtic lady's burial tomb of that period.
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Monthey
The Church contains one of the most impressive Valaisan ringtones: seven bells in casted by Ruetschi of Aarau in 1895. Neoclassical Sardinian church flanked by an older bell tower, the first parish church was built in this same place in 1707. In poor condition and becoming too small, it was demolished around 1850. The elegant bell tower was fortunately preserved. The current church was consecrated in 1855, under the name of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, whose dogma had been proclaimed by Pius IX in 1854. It was Emile Vuilloud, architect at Monthey, who drew the shots of this cross-basilical edifice, set in a rectangle. The presence of the Sardinian neoclassical church was a trend popular in Valais and Savoy before the appearance of neo-medieval styles such as neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque.
In honour of the proud heritage of Valais winegrowing over the centuries, and of the independent Vignerons who tend to these famed alpine vineyards.