© Iris Kavka

"Klapotetz"  (wind wheel)

The German word "Klapotetz" (klopotec) comes from the Slovenian word "klopotec", which in turn derives from the Slavic verb "klopotati" meaning "to rattle", "to clatter" or "to bang". In Styria, the klopotec was previously referred to as a "Windmühle" (windmill) or "Windrad" (wind wheel). Over time, however, the term "Klapotetz" became favoured in South Styria. Originally, the klopotec was erected in vineyards to deter birds from nibbling at the grapes. But as the birds slowly became accustomed to its rattling sound, so the klopotec became more of a symbol of South Styria and Styrian wine.

As a result, you can't go too far in South Styria without encountering a klopotec. Whether at a Buschenschank (wine tavern), on the South Styrian Wine Road, in Eichberg-Trautenburg, on the Karnerberg mountain or in Arnfels, the klopotec is a common sight throughout Styria's Wine Country (Rebenland), and is one of the region's customs.

Its construction is fascinating: it consists of many individual components and various types of wood. Ash is tough and durable, and is therefore used for the body. The eight fins (six in Slovenia) are made from spruce wood. The klopotec is usually one meter in diameter. Crank axles ("Grindel") and pegs are carved from acacia, with apple or pear wood used for mounting the sound guard. The sound guard itself is made from wild cherry, and is responsible for the wonderful noise of the klopotec. Its "tail" is made from birch sticks, designed to give the wind some contact surface. The biggest klopotec structure still intact is currently to be found near the summit of the Demmerkogel.

Traditionally, the klopotec is erected on St. James Day (25 July) or St. Anne's Day (26 July), and taken down after the grape harvest im November.