Loess terracing 

The period from 1962 to 1972 saw a systematic redrawing of agricultural property boundaries on the Kaiserstuhl, with the aim of creating more economically manageable plots of land. Immediately after the Second World War, Baden’s agriculture had an extremely weak competitive position, both relative to other parts of Germany and relative to other agricultural sectors.  

For centuries, the predominant inheritance pattern in southwestern Germany had resulted in fragmented land-holdings, many as small as a tenth or a twentieth of a hectare. This in turn did not support the use of or investment in modern cultivation or processing machinery. So industry modernization was predicated in turn on changing these land-ownership patterns.  

The boundary redrawing had the goal of contributing to the emergence of a competitive industry. Small parcels of land were combined, total usable areas grew as less land was lost to boundary markings, and access routes were rationalized. In the process, whole communities were strengthened by the experience of taking responsibility for their own long-term prosperity.

The redrawing on the Kaiserstuhl involved the creation of large-scale terraces, mostly built of the local sedimentary rock, loess. Productivity and quality levels were improved, as was the physical accessibility of markets, and agricultural ownership became an attractive professional option for many locals. Until today, this redrawing of agricultural land boundaries is one of the foundations for the continued prosperity of the Kaiserstuhl as a wine region. 

The maps above show a ‘before’ and ‘after’ chart of some of the local fields, and the colouring gives an indication of ownership patterns as boundaries were redrawn.