Imagine this: a small village at the foot of mountain range which ends in a lake, stretching to the horizon and beyond. Well, maybe not beyond. But you cannot tell, because looking at the horizon is too blinding because of the warm summer sun that is shining directly at you. You focus instead on the vineyards that surround you and decide to take another sip of your refreshing glass of white wine. Welcome to winery Festiguet, in the small town of Ligerz, Switzerland.
While in Switzerland, I discovered that the Swiss have quite a taste for wine – especially their own. Of all the wine that is produced, only about 1% is being exported. So don’t worry if you haven’t tasted any. The reason for this lies partly in the fact that Switzerland is expensive. Very expensive. And so is it’s wine. This is not only an explanation for the lack in export, but also the reason why the Swiss simply don’t make so much wine: for them it is cheaper to import good wine than to make it. Besides this, the country lies in the middle of the Alps and high mountains may be good for skiing, but not so much for growing wine. The best places in Switzerland to grow wine are on the lakeside, but this is exactly where the Swiss themselves like to live. So this ground has been used more and more to build houses in the past decades.
Long story short: I had never before tasted any Swiss wine, but was curious to! So Mr. Dodo, my Swiss friend and I set out to find ourselves a nice little vineyard. Little did we know how beautiful this “Festiguet” at the Bielersee would be. But they had an open house and were only a 45-minute drive away from Bern (where we stayed). Finding the place was easy enough – expect for the last 500 – 1000 meters: we had to drive up a small, crooked road at a 90º angle. The three of us looked at each other and thankfully my Swiss friend remembered the place from the past, as well as the fact that there used to be a cable railway. We quickly parked the car at the station and bought ourselves some tickets for the cable railway.
Happy with our choice for mode of transportation, we got out at the second stop and found Festiguet directly around the corner. It looked as lovely as can be. And since we were not in France, we got a warm welcome by the owners.
We sat down at one of the tables in the backyard, overlooking the Bielersee.
Although one of course likes a good view, after making it all this way up we started to get thirsty. A look at the wines these slopes had to offer brought on some confusion tough… For little did I know that the Swiss cultivate more than 200 different wine grapes!
We started out with a nice glass of Sylvaner. Although my wine encyclopedia refers to it as not much more than an ordinary garden-variety grape, the Swiss swear by it. Up until about 100 years ago it was actually the most commonly grown white grape in Germany, because one could count on its steady quality. Sylvaner gives a fairly neutral wine with modest acids, with some spicy varieties matching Swiss country kitchen food. We definitely enjoyed our glass!
In case you are ever in the neighborhood: you can visit Festiguet at any time to have a taste or buy some bottles.
For more information you can best visit their Facebook-page (although it is in German): https://www.facebook.com/festiguet/
They also have a website, but it gives you little more information than the wines they sell: http://www.festiguet.ch