Dao bie de ranke in Wahlwiller

At least once a year I drive through the small ‘wine village’ (as the entrance sign states) of Wahlwiller, in the south of the Netherlands, between Aachen and Maastricht. Even the smallest of villages have embraced city marketing nowadays, with more often than not rather odd if not downright pathetic slogans. ‘Do it in D’, ‘Always A’, ‘T, you’re here’, ‘F, Adventurously close’. But ‘wine village’ sounds different, more fact based. That troubled me too. Though wine is made in the region, and more so every climate changing year, there is not a single vine to be seen when driving through. So when I heard of Wahlwiller’s wine feast, I decided to make a stop.
And yes, when you cross the burn and walk 5 minutes up hill, there is a parcel of vitis vinifera. So there is a vineyard, the annual wine feast, an official wine song (‘Dao bie de ranke’/’At the vines’) and a wine queen. If that doesn’t qualify one as wine village, what does? Still, I got the impression that wine has not settled in the village’s identity, and until now has failed to reach the hearts and minds of its inhabitants.
I happened to be there when next year’s wine queen was presented at the tavern, escorted by Home Guard St. Sebastianus, with brass band, from a nearby village. It took a while before all guards were standing in the right position: ‘Private first class, two centimetres to the right!’ Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. ‘Second gunner, 1 centimetre forward!’ Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. Etc. ‘Port arms!’, ‘Salute!’ ‘At ease!’ All meticulously performed. They deserved a drink all right, the master of ceremony decided. Trays with beer were awaiting them already…

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