Zürich wine region: vineyards, white asparagus and wilderness

May 20, 2017 — 2 comments

Fine wine cultivation and white asparagus growing complement one-another in the sunny Flaach valley which is part of the Zürich wine region. Located a short thirty minute drive outside the city of Zürich, it is also in immediate vicinity of Thurauen Nature Center.

Vineyard Castle Goldenberg

Veering off the main road, the path leads through an alley of poplars, then meanders upward in a steepening incline until the stately castle appears in all its glory. The view from the top is breathtaking.

Past the 13th century castle the hilly landscape is dotted with black and white cows and pretty white sheep. Soldierly rows of vines overlook the gabled houses and village church below. The meadow to the west extends into a rolling golf course with the Victorian orangerie the clubhouse. Down in the valley the intense yellow of flowering rapeseed fields gleam in the distance.

Knights and squires

The first deed of the castle dates back 800 years to the knights of Goldenberg. The colorful past includes ownership by Habsburg princes and Zürich patrician families until 1893, when the ancestors of current family Kindhauser purchased the estate.

“Vines were grown from very early on since all farming in those days included making your own wine,” explains Susette Zoelly-Kindhauser. Her great-grandfather updated the castle architecture, added utility buildings for horses, farm equipment and carriages, built an orangery and hired staff and an estate manager to run it. It was Susette’s and her two brothers Heiner and Ueli Kindhauser’s parents who put the focus on winemaking, and the three siblings run the family vineyard in the famous Zürich wine region together today, with the next generation already in training.

In the early days of 110 years of winemaking at castle Goldenberg, the vintage was delivered with horse and carriage to restaurants in Zürich. Even the hospital in Winterthur ordered wine to help effect speedy healing with patients!

Today, private and business clients come up to the castle to attend wine tastings and select their nectar from a wide variety of white, rosé and red wines. Winegrowers Heiner and Ueli care year-round for the vineyard. During harvest time, the grapes are picked by hand, carefully transported, freed from stems and lovingly pressed in the castle vaults. Marc Schlossbrand, a rarity wine which has become highly prized, is ripened for several years in oak barrels. Even a tee-totaler like me will appreciate the glorious vistas in every direction and the sense of history of the castle and adjacent buildings. For more information and to view Schloss Goldenberg’s wine tasting schedule go to http://www.schloss-goldenberg.ch/home.html.

Farm Restaurant Spargelhof

The five communities of Dorf, Volken, Flaach, Berg and Buch am Irchel are gently embedded in Flaach valley, far off major traffic routes, and an important part of the Zürich wine region. Between castle Goldenberg in the east and the river Rhine in the west, the villages are nestled into the rolling hills and dotted with colorful traditional timber houses. The agricultural land in-between is reputed for its white asparagus cultivation. Greeks and Romans appreciated the vegetable already and wild varieties have been found in the Zürich wine region for centuries. Family Gisler of the Spargelhof Flaach is growing the delectable white spring crop in the third generation. Flaach is just one community west of Goldenberg Castle in Dorf.

Between end of March and mid June farmer Jürg Gisler and his helpers check the earth mounds daily morning and night for cracks and peeking through asparagus tops. The sleek stalks have been growing in hiding, completely covered by sandy soil which makes for their creamy color. Once the stalks crack their sandy earth roof, every single stalk must be harvested by hand! The top layer of soil is gently removed around the tip of the asparagus, then the stalk carefully severed from its root stock with a special knife, allowing for re-growth next year. Green asparagus are a different type and continue their green growth above soil before being cut. Spargelhof grows both white and green asparagus but specializes in the white, thicker variety. Both types are harvested and sold fresh the same day or prepared into delectable dishes in the charming Spargelhof eatery.

“Freshness is key,” says Lydia Gisler, selling the asparagus next to the open air restaurant. “To check for freshness, touch the cut surface of the uncooked asparagus. If it’s moist, you know you have a fresh product.” Something that is guaranteed at the Spargelhof and you can tell when you sample their dishes! The farm offers tours in the spring for interested individuals and groups and lets you give it a try at cutting your own asparagus. For more information go to http://www.flaacherspargel.ch/.

Nature Center Thurauen

A short distance north of Spargelhof in the Zürich wine region, along the elbow of the rivers Rhine and Thur lies Thurauen, the 800 acres protected wetland nature park. Ecological planning over the years has resulted in the successful creation of new habitats for rare wildlife and plants. Exotic, colorful kingfisher birds can be spotted amongst the branches, wild hares with long ears will observe you curiously, and you can watch the beavers at work and play. Orchids and many other plant species are abundant and the park offers a visitors center with interesting talks and activities for all ages; guided tours on foot; sunset tours by boat and early riser expeditions in the summer. Restaurant Rübis und Stübis ensures your culinary delight and wooden board walks offer convenient hiking throughout the park. For more information and to check on the current activities schedule go to http://naturzentrum-thurauen.ch/.

These are just three activities in close proximity in the Flaach valley of the Zürich wine region. There are many more vineyards, pittoresque villages with historic timber architecture, attractions and and museums to explore in this beautiful, hilly landscape. Zürich wine region is worth a visit any time of the year.

If this article animated you to visit this thoroughly charming, off-the-beaten path region of the Zürich wine region, please leave a comment about your experience below. 

About Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust

about-ss

Switzerland travel enthusiast. Cat lover, bicyclist and classical music fan. I prefer walking over running and enjoy a good Swiss card game of Jass among friends.  More about Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust »

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Additional Information

http://www.schloss-goldenberg.ch/

Photos: Weingut Schloss Goldenberg, Dorf and Silvia Schoch

Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region

Additional Information

http://www.flaacherspargel.ch/

Photos: Spargelhof, Flaach and Silvia Schoch

Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region

Additional Information

http://naturzentrum-thurauen.ch/

Photos: Naturpark Thurauen, Flaach

Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region
Zürich Wine Region

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  1. Julie Schoch
    Julie Schoch says:

    I loved the part about the Vineyard supplying wine to the hospitals, I would never have thought that but of course it makes sense! This area sounds so beautiful and like an amazing place to visit!

    Reply
    • Silvia
      Silvia says:

      Dear Julie
      that is a funny detail, isnt’ it and there are lots of people today that believe in wine being medicine. Who knows, maybe they are right… :-). And the area is very lovey! Happy continued reading,
      Silvia

      Reply

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