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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Spiez, Switzerland Wine Festival

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Went to Spiez today to attend the Wine Festival.

Spiez is the perfect place for a relaxing day. The primary tourist sight in Spiez is the castle with its early Romanesque castle church.

I so enjoy the idyllic atmosphere at Spiez's beautiful bay.

I always felt Spiez to be a magical place and today I found out why. "Numerous hills, gorges, caves, alpine landscapes, ancient cult sites and settlements and early medieval churches located around Lake Thun are deemed to be mystical energy sites. Spiez is home to several of these sites. Its location right by the water with a 13 km lakefront and harmonious landscape add to Spiez's positive radiance and relaxing atmosphere."

Spiez mystical energy sites

Spiez Castle and castle church dating from the 11th century.

Spizberg Hill, century old yew trees, impressive views of Spiez and Lake Thun

Katzenstein boulder at the Spiez vineyard, impressive views across Lake Thun

Niesen, pyramid shaped guardian mountain of Lake Thun, at 2,363 meters.

Spiez, with a population of approximately 13,000 people, is on Lake Thun. Besides the town of Spiez, the municipality also includes the settlements of Einigen, Hondrich, Faulensee, and Spiezwiler. This community has been around for a very long time. Spiez was first mentioned around 761-62 as Spiets.

“Historically the residents of Spiez and the surrounding villages raised orchards and vineyards along the lake, fished in the lake and shipped goods along the lake or raised crops in the valleys. The vineyards of Spiez were first mentioned in 1338 and remained in operation until an outbreak of disease destroyed the plants in 1900. An attempt in 1927 to restart the wine industry on Spiez mountain and at Faulensee was fairly successful. The villages along the Kander were often threatened by flooding, until the Kander was diverted into the lake in 1711-13. The construction of the Lake Thun road in 1844 and steam ship docks in 1835, 1876 and 1926 helped open the town to the rest of the country. Due to the mild climate and transportation links, Spiez became a popular health and spa town in the 19th century. Beginning in 1856 resorts and hotels, including the Schonegg, Spiezerhof and Faulensee-Bad, opened along the lake shore.

Two men were walking among the vines. One was picking individual grapes and putting them in a bag while the other was tasting the grapes. They most likely are determining when to harvest the grapes.

In Spiez, the grapes are taken to the castle where they are weighed, put in containers and then processed right there at the castle.

The castle and adjacent church are very important to the town.

In 933, the King of Burgundy, Rudolph II, built the castle. Shortly thereafter, the Freiherr von Strättligen settled in the castle. Portions of the current castle shield walls and main tower were built during the 12th century and by the 13th century the town of Spiez existed outside the castle walls. By 1280, the castle was listed as an Imperial fief under Vogt Richard de Corbières. In 1289, the Freiherr von Strättligen was co-owner of the castle along with a succession of other noble families. King Albert I of Habsburg, in 1308, was murdered at Windisch on the Reuss, by his nephew Duke John Parricida. As part of their retaliation for the murder, the Habsburgs withdrew half of the Spiez fief from Thüring von Brandis and granted the whole fief to Johannes von Strättligen. Thirty years later, in 1338, Johannes sold the castle, town, church and surrounding villages to Johann II von Bubenberg who was the Schultheiss of Bern. By 1340, the Bubenberg appointed vogt took orders from Bern, but was obligated to raise troops for the Habsburgs. As Bern was de facto independent from their former overlords, the Habsburgs, this created an unstable situation which remained for over 40 years. After the Bernese and Swiss Confederation victory over the Habsburgs in the Battle of Sempach in 1386, the Habsburgs gave up their land claims west of the Aare, which included Spiez.

The castle and surrounding land remained with the Bubenberg family until their extinction in 1506, when it was acquired by Ludwig von Diesbach. Von Diesbach held it for ten years before Ludwig von Erlach acquired the castle and lands. The von Erlach family ruled the town and villages until the 1798 French invasion. After the invasion and the creation of the Helvetic Republic, the von Erlach family lost their land rights and jurisdiction over the village, but retained ownership of the castle until 1875.

The old castle was expanded in several stages during the Late Middle Ages but little is known about the specific dates or what was changed. In 1600, the great hall and the northern buildings were expanded and renovated. During the 17th and 18th centuries the south "New Castle" was built and then expanded and redecorated in the late Baroquestyle. The castle was surrounded with gardens, vineyards and forests. After 1875, the castle passed through several owners until a foundation bought the castle and associated church. The gardens are now open to the public and the castle rooms are used for conferences, concerts, exhibitions and other events.”

Many beautiful flowers and trees are grown around the castle.

Along the road to the vineyard is a huge chestnut tree.

There were wine related activities at the wine museum and also at one of the wineries.

Before the parade commenced, they had a concert in the plaza by the carousel.

The parade lasted slightly over an hour.

Floats were pulled by tractors and horses pulled wagons. Floral wreaths were hung at the front of the tractor. Some of the sign posts along the route had sunflower floral displays hung from the pole.

The marching bands and the bell ringers were led by ladies carrying flowers.

Many children's groups marched

One child just fell asleep

Animals were not left out.

The firemen sprayed water at people.

Candy was handed out. I had so many I shared with the lady next to me.

The wineries in town handed out samples of their wine. They were not stingy in the amount they gave. All four of mine were white.

It was such a lovely day I decided to take the boat back to Interlaken instead of the train. It was such a relaxing trip I thought I was going to fall asleep.

I had a wonderful day in Spiez. It was a day full of music, food, wine, breathtaking scenery, friendly people to talk with........ And so another day comes to a close.

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