“Entdecke DE”: The Kaiserstuhl Way of Life
The “Entdecke DE” series takes you on a tour through Germany. This summer’s destination is Europe’s Kaiserstuhl region in south-west Germany.
“Quel beau jardin – what a beautiful garden” is what the French Sun King Louis XIV allegedly proclaimed when he looked across the Upper Rhine Plain to the Kaiserstuhl in 1681. It is not only the countryside that takes one’s breath away in the picturesque hills of this south-west corner of Germany – here, where the delicious smells of French cuisine waft across the border, is to be found one of Germany’s leading gourmet regions.
The wine that has been growing on the volcanic rock here since the year 670 may be one of the reasons why local people know all about enjoying the good life. Grapes in the Kaiserstuhl area benefit from the particularly favourable local climatic conditions. In fact, to find out just how favourable these conditions are, a competition has even been held between the small town of Ihringen and other places in Germany – to determine where exactly “the warmest place in Germany” really is. One thing is not in dispute: the sun in the Kaiserstuhl region shines a great deal more than it does in many other areas, which is also why people like to use the adjective “Mediterranean” when describing this part of Baden-Württemberg. Blessed by the frequent sunshine, some of Germany’s best wines grow here. This particular claim to fame is transported all over the world on the labels of thousands of bottles of wine, forcing sommeliers from London to Tokyo to do their best to pronounce names like “Grauburgunder vom Ihringer Winklerberg”.
It is not only the grape-vines that characterize the region, however. Even before the wine festivals are held in the autumn, local villages celebrate the fruits from the orchards every summer: lush red cherries, juicy plums, crunchy apples, aromatic pears, berries and nuts. Much of this bounty ends up directly on the plates of award-winning restaurants like the Adlerwirtschaft run by Franz Keller, that legendary restaurateur in the village of Oberbergen who brought one of the very first Michelin stars to Germany. More simple fare can be found in what are known as “Straussenwirtschaften” – improvised garden cafes that are open from the summer until the grapes are harvested. On clear days, a unique panorama can be enjoyed from the vineyards: in the distance the slopes of the Vosges mountains in Alsace can be seen, as can the lush green Rhine valley and the town of Freiburg, with the ridge of the Black Forest hills behind. The Kaiserstuhl – a beautiful garden with a view.