On May 28th and 29th, 2022 we celebrated 20 years of IG PIWI Wallis!

The extensive program started on Saturday with a visit to the World Nature Forum in Naters and welcoming the participants in bright sunshine below the Naters Fortress. Then we went into the underground passages with a visit to the fortifications. Michael Hänzig designed the introduction to the PIWI topic with the topic PIWI red wine vinification, which could be further discussed at the subsequent raclette à discrétion with a wide variety of wines.

Introduction to Naters Fortress

On November 29th, 2002, 20 ambitious winegrowers founded the IG PIWI Wallis.

As early as 1999, Dr. Pierre Basler and his colleagues founded PIWI International to give the new developments in fungus-resistant grape varieties a suitable framework and to further develop the breeding work together.

As the largest wine-growing region in Switzerland and due to its special location, a separate IG was founded in Valais. Pierre Basler from the Wädenswil research institute and Ing.Agr. Norbert Agten from the Upper Valais Agricultural College. Hans-Peter Baumann was elected as the first president.

The IG's goals include: legalizing the planting of interspecific grape varieties, mutual support, exchange of experience, breakthrough in organic viticulture in Valais.

The IG had already achieved one of its most important goals in 2007: the official planting of PIWI vines.

In his review of the 20 years of development of the PIWI cultivation in Valais, Hans-Peter thanks the founding members present. Current President Edwin Locher presented certificates and thanked Hans-Peter and his wife Iren for their many years of tireless work.

founding members

The development of the PIWI vines in the Upper Valais was rapid: just 1 year after the start in 2003 there were 4350 vines. Today, the IG Valais has 54 members and there are around 4 hectares of PIWI vines in the Upper Valais. In the Lower Valais, where there are larger vineyards, there are now around 25 hectares of PIWI vineyards.

The Swiss delegation from Valais was always well represented at the member trips of PIWI International, which unfortunately had to be canceled in recent years due to the pandemic. This is how the Valais came to Hungary, the Czech Republic, France, Austria, Germany, Holland and Italy.

After the review, there was enough space for exciting discussions and an exchange of experiences. After lunch, there were three workshops on the latest trends in winemaking with oenologist Michael Hänzi. Martin Auer together with Bea Steinemann from Fibl showed some interesting aspects of the PIWI area development in Switzerland and informed about the most cultivated varieties in Valais. Diego Baumann demonstrated practical applications with mowing machines in the vineyard.

The IG is now working on further concepts for marketing the sustainably produced PIWI wines. We were able to taste a very large variety after the workshops.

Wine route 2 Wine route 1 Raclette

Many thanks for this great and entertaining anniversary celebration. We wish you every success for the next 20 years.

Gisela Wüstinger
May 30, 2022

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