Professor Blankenhorn Weinlehrpfad
The Kaiserstuhl climate
By German standards, the Kaiserstuhl is very far south and west. It is close to the climate-moderating influence of the Rhine, in the rain shadow of the Vosges to the west and protected from the worst of the weather from the east by the Black Forest. This combination gives it a uniquely mild micro-climate.
Nowhere else in Germany gets as much sunshine as where you are standing now: 1700 hours of sun annually. The average annual temperature, at 9.9°C, is Germany’s highest, though it varies widely through the year, with exceptionally hot summers lasting 50 to 60 days. Winters can be very cold here, although the warmth-storing qualities of the volcanic soils moderate the impact of cold air. Our mild climate is also due in part to the Belfort Gap, a 30-kilometer-wide saddle separating the Vosges mountains in the north from the limestone Jura to the south, and encouraging the flow, up the Rhône valley, of warm air from the Mediterranean. The western Kaiserstuhl is still very much subject to the rain shadow of the high Vosges, only 20 km further west. This area is on the lee side of the Kaiserstuhl range, and enjoys significantly lower levels of precipitation than the eastern side.
No area of Germany enjoys spring so early as the Kaiserstuhl. Apple trees blossom here in mid-April, and the autumn temperatures drop significantly later than elsewhere in central Europe. This extended growing season particularly benefits vine varieties that prefer a warm climate. The pinot varieties characteristic of Burgundy – hundreds of kilometers further south – seem to have found a second home here, and ripen reliably and fully.