Valais is the largest wine-growing region is located in the southern part of Switzerland close to the border with Italy. The vineyards of Valais are covering one-third of the total vine-growing area in the country, and vines were already being cultivated here between 800 and 600 BC. The climate is Alpine with most of the vineyards planted on an altitude between 460–760 m above sea level and some of them are on 1100 m which is the highest planted vines in Europe. All climatic and topographic conditions are very favourable for the amazing richness of unique wines that the Valais produces from a wide range of grape varieties. The region is known for astonishing and robust reds, originating from autochthonous grape varieties like Cornalin d'Aoste and Diolinoir, as well as delicate Pinot Noir wine. The leading white wine grape in Valais is the Chasselas which is called Fendant here and some international white grapes are planted, like the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Valais was the first wine region in 1993 to become categorised by the AOC system, where individual vineyards are classified as a Grand Cru, like in France. The most famous of those are Fully, Conthey, Vetroz, Saint-Leonard and Salgesch. Valais as a whole has helped to pioneer Switzerland's developing export markets and its increasing recognition as a first-rate wine nation.