Before the development of tourism, the principal industries in the region were vine growing, agriculture and cattle rearing. From these activities grew the typical Valaisan dishes, such as raclette,(melted cheese) » viande sechée (dried meat), accompanied by the delicious local wines,notably Fendant and Dôle. In Valais, over 50 wine specialities are produced and 50 million litres are made each year.
The Valaisis also a great fruit- growing area (apricots, strawberries, apples, pears and ,of course, grapes. Vegetables also do well, notably asparagus and tomatoes. The production of hard liquor and spirits is a tradition, the best known being « Williamine » (made from pears), « Pomme »( apples), « Marc » (grapes), « Abricotine » (apricots) and « Prune » ((plums), etc.
The special breed of cows known as « Herens » has given rise to one of the most typical traditions in Valais, the « Combat des Reines » (the fight of queens). These stocky dark brown cows are subject to a certain hierarchy. The « Queen » leads the herd, chooses the best pastures for herself, so naturally, the animals fight between themselves for this privilege. The fights are never dangerous but arouse extraordinary enthusiasm among the public.The cantonal final brings more than 10,000 people together. The first fights take place in mid- June, at the « Inalpe » when the cows are taken to the mountain pastures. The „Desalpe“ is when the cows return down to their winter quarters in mid-September.