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The Rhone River flows through southern Switzerland along steep rocky cliffs, flowing into Lake Geneva. Where the valley widens just beyond the eastern end of the lake, the the picturesque little village of Aigle (meaning Eagle and pronounced egg-la) is surrounded by wine vineyards stretching out the to the cliffs, and in the midst of the vines is the stunning Savoy Castle of Aigle. First built at the end of the 12th Century by the d’Allio family, the castle ultimately fell to the Bernese in 1475 and was burned to its foundations. The rulers from Bern rebuilt the castle with its signature turrets and curtain wall as a residence for their governors presenting an impressive example of 15th Century medieval fortified chateau.

Wine Making Museum at Castle  d'AigleThe Chateau d’Aigle now houses the Vaudois Wine Museum and the related Wine Label Museum (Musée de la Vigne du Vin and de l’Etiquette). Sometimes described as two separate museums they are both essentially sections of the castle. The one time storerooms and former stable are occupied by the wine press house and wine cellar where posed figures work at the levered grape presses, representing the centuries old wine making process. Oak wine barrels and great massive wood beam wine press works occupy other spaces. The upper floors of the castle offer a look at the living quarters of a well preserved Renaissance castle residence, with wine bottles, the history of drinking measures and winemaking, framed by the painted beamed ceilings and coats of arms of the Bernese governors. In the former armory is the Wine Label Museum where the weapons of the past have been replaced by almost 1000 different examples of wine labels from the beginning of the 19th Century up to the 1960s. On display are the first hand written wine labels to the printed decorative art varieties from vintners both famous and obscure. The museum features a prime collection of Mouton-Rothschild labels showing the evolution of one of Switzerland’s most famous wines.

Aigle Cstle in the Wine VineyardsAigle is a 20 minute train ride from Montreux along the main rail line from Geneva to Brig (30 minutes by Post Bus). The Chateau d’Aigle is a 15 minute walk from the train station through the center of town on a route marked by signs. A bus runs to the castle, and the trains which carry on to Les Diablerets and the alps villages stop a little closer to the castle, but it’s still a walk. You can check in the tourism center for directions. There is wine tasting with a souvenir wine glass included in the entrance price. Since the castle is a bit of a hike from the village of Aigle, stop for lunch at the Pinte du Paradis Restaurant in the former Tithe House, or taste and purchase wine from the 15 vineyards (Vignerons) of Aigle at the Oenotheque du Chateau dAigle. The Museum of Wine at Chateau d’Aigle is open every day 11am to 6pm from April to October, closed on Mondays except in July and August. The Pinte du Paradis restaurant stays open until 11pm Tuesday to Saturday and the wine shops nearby stay open all year.

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