Monday, 25 September 2006

Côtes de Weil 2

Weiler Schipf is the steep vineyard overlooking town. Back in the 18th century there was an earthslide on this hill that took away a huge portion of vineyard. This was probably caused by the predominantly clay soil and non-porous sandstone underneath becoming saturated with rain. True story!

It is probably no coincidence that the word for “to slide” in the local dialect (Alemannisch) is “schlipfen”.

The main grape varieties in this vineyard are the Pinot varieties, and especially Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder). Facing south to southwest and situated close to the buildings in town below, Weiler Schlipf is a heat trap. With average temperatures and precipitation similar to the levels found in Germany’s warmest town, Ihringen, by the Kaiserstuhl, grapes have little difficulty ripening here.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Côtes de Weil

Apart from the aforementioned chair fetish, Weil still has a lot to offer. Statistically, the southwest along the Rhine valley is the warmest and one of the sunniest regions in Germany. In turn, the area in Switzerland around Basle is the warmest and sunniest part of the country, if you take Sion and the Rhône valley out of the equation.

It goes without saying that wine growing has a long tradition here. Weil’s vineyards are situated on the western face of the Tüllinger Hügel (hill) which separates Weil from the town of Lörrach. First you have “Weiler Schlipf”...

...situated on the south-southeastern spur of the hill, then comes “Haltinger Stiege” a bit further on north-westwards, then the hill forms a slight basin and then curves round into a steep south-facing slope up to the village of Ötlingen. The vineyard on this slope is “Ötlinger Sonnhole”:

There is another named vineyard situated on the other side of the hill called “Tüllinger Sonnenbrunnen”, but that one belongs to Lörrach.

Details of grape varieties, soils, etc. in my next post.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Chairs (lots of them)

So, like I was saying, Weil has made a bit of a name for itself thanks to it's chair-making industry. As a way of doffing their proverbial caps to this fine art, the marketing brains at the Weil Business & Tourist Information Office came up with the novel idea of strategically placing oversized designer chairs at street corners, outside shops and restaurants throughout town. Some of these specimens are so big you would need some form of climbing equipment to clamber on to them. Others are more modest in size but no less awkward to sit on. Personally I find the chairs add a nice quirky touch to Weil.

However, there is, I believe, a danger of overplaying this aspect. This was the case in July 2000, when Weil entered the Guinness Book of Records with the record for the world's longest unbroken row of people sitting on chairs. I don't know exactly what the final distance was that was achieved, but the record attempt started at the Vitra museum situated near an approach road and ended by the town hall right in the centre of town: maybe a mile and a half or so. I remember that day clearly, walking with a bemused look on my face past a long row of Germans sitting on chairs and listening to the strains of DJ Ötzi bellowing from a hastily erected stage.

Since then, there have to date been no more record attempts to speak of.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006


Welcome to my blog. First of all, a quick summary: I live in Weil, Germany’s most south-westerly town situated on the border with Switzerland and the city of Basle. Weil am Rhein – to give the town its full name – is known primarily for its chairs and its design museum. Chairs, because the German chair-making company Vitra has its headquarters here. Museum, because the Vitra Design Museum is based here. The museum building was designed by Frank O. Gehry, supposedly the same bloke who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Weil (pronounced “vile”) has been my home for almost six and a half years, and I’ve grown curiously fond of the place in that time. It’s hard to put my finger on it, though maybe it’s a combination of living on the doorstep of Basle, where I work, but living away from it all in a different country altogether. With 30,000 inhabitants, Weil is neither small nor big. However, it seems a lot more bustling than other towns of that size, probably because of the influx of foreign visitors who come here to purchase their weekly groceries. Walk into the town centre on a Saturday morning and the roads are chocker with Swiss and also French-registered cars. Thanks to this additional clientele, Weil's retailers are in a privileged position compared with their counterparts from most other German towns.

Are your eyes are glazing over? Sorry!

Watch this space for more cutting-edge insight from Weil am Rhein.