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Germany's Kaiserstuhl Region Offers Sun and WineOctober 4, 2011
Detlef Berg, DPA, October 4, 2011
The low Kaiserstuhl mountain range between the Black Forest and Vogesen in the south-west of Germany enjoys a temperate climate and is considered one of the country's best wine producing regions.
Fritz Keller and his family live in Oberbergen where he runs a vineyard and restaurant that has been in his family for four generations. "I travel a lot but every time I return home I realise that I'm living in a real paradise," he says.
The highest point in the Kaiserstuhl rises to 557 metres above sea level. It is Germany's warmest region and vines flourish on its terraced slopes.
Keller, who took over the Schwarzer Alder vineyard from his father in 1990, is just one of the many wine growers in the area. His father pioneered fermented wines during the 1980s and son Fritz has further developed this style of wine.
The Kaiserstuhl is particularly known for its fruity and powerful Burgundy-style wines, which are internationally renowned.
Joachim Heger also makes powerful and dry Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris wines while his classy Pinot Noir has received high praise from wine connoisseurs. His vineyard is situated in Ihringen in the south corner of the Kaiserstuhl where the climate is almost Mediterranean.
There are numerous nature trails around Ihringen highlighting the wide variety of wildlife and fauna in the area which is home to 33 of Germany's 55 indigenous orchid plants. Rare birds such as the golden oriole and hoopoe can be found here, as well as green lizards, mantises and stag beetles. A visit to the arboretum is also recommended.
"Nature and Wine" is the slogan for the walk around the volcanic rock garden in Winklerberg, which takes in Alter Rebhaeusle, Winklerbergbruennele and a historical step route. The small wine town of Burkheim, meanwhile, has created an educational wine path for visitors.
"People can learn everything they need to know about storage and grape varieties, as well as vine maintenance and cultivation," said Dominik Schweizer, who became a cellar master of the renowned Burkheim wine growers society at the age of 28.
Burkheim is not only a jewel of a town with its numerous charming half-timbered houses, it is also home to a corkscrew museum, perhaps the smallest and most unusual museum in Germany.
History can be seen everywhere in the town of Breisach situated along the Rhine in the Rhine Valley. The imposing Muensterberg (Cathedral Hill) rises to a height of 35 metres and is capped by St Stephan's cathedral of Breisach, which is most famous for its carved altar.
The small wine towns of the Kaiserstuhl are also known for their good food and hospitality. The region offers a wide variety of choice, ranging from exquisite gourmet restaurants to cosy inns. "The love for the region also manifests itself in the food," says Keller. "We have exceptional regional produce."