|Route des Vins d'Alsace, France|
|This winding route through beautiful wine villages is a great introduction to Alsatian wines.|
The Route des Vins d'Alsace, or Alsatian Wine Route (map), runs from about Wissembourg in the north (northwest of Strasbourg) to Thann in the south (east of Mulhouse and south of Colmar). The whole route is about 120 kilometers (75 miles), passing over one hundred towns and villages, but you can get a sense of it by a shorter trip and visist toa few villages and towns.
Some of the wine route towns and villages can be reached by public bus or train. (See below.)
You'll also want to make a detour to see the huge, dramatic mountaintop Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg, a medieval Teutonic eagles' nest restored by Kaiser Wilhelm II.
The Alsatian Wine Route
If you have a car, you could enjoy a day exploring this route (map), which borders the lovely Vosges mountains and offers beautiful views of vineyards and villages, such as this one:
If you don't have, or want, a car, a number of the villages and towns, including some of the nicest ones, are readly accessible by bus or train or—even better—by bicycle.
Being a northerly wine-growing region, Alsace is best suited for white wine. Reds are rare.
Perhaps best known of Alsace wines is Riesling, which here is made dry rather than sweet; but as you explore the region you'll discover a great variety of wines. Gewürtzraminer and Muscat tend to be sweeter and fruitier, but not cloying. Pinot gris is drier. One of my favorites, not nearly as easily found as the aforementioned wines, is Pinot blanc, which we find well-balanced and refreshing. More...
The region is also known for its crémant d'Alsace, or sparkling wine. It isn't champagne, since to be called champagne it must be from the Champagne region of France, but the local crémants are flavorful and fun. For a nice apéritif, try a kir d'Alsace, a glass of local white wine with a splash of crème de cassis (black currant liqueur), or other flavors such as peach or pear. Even better is a kir royal, made with sparkling crémant d'Alsace instead of still wine. More...
Transport for the Route des Vins
Alsace Wine Route Tours
The Kut'zig Tourbus Route des Vins d'Alsace is a scheduled hop-on, hop-off bus service from Colmar connecting the wine-making villages of Ribeauvillé, Hunawihr, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Turckheim, Eguisheim and Voegtlinshoffen. There are four departures per day in one direction on the circular route, and two in the opposite direction.
The full loop takes about two hours, but of course you'll want to hop off in a village, see the sights, taste some wine, perhaps have a meal, then hop back on to your next village, or for your return to Colmar.
The buses operate Wednesday through Sunday and holidays in July, August and September; Friday through Sunday and holidays in June and early October. (No departures from mid-October through May.) A ticket costs 15€ per person for the day. More...
Near Strasbourg, the winemaking town of Obernai is easily reached by train, and some towns can be reached by bus from Sélestat, but Colmar is the best base for visiting Alsatian winemaking towns and villages.
For any town or village, you can consult bus and train timetables and schedules on the Fluo website.
Alsatian Wine Villages
Here are our favorite wine villages in Alsace, from north (near Strasbourg) to south (near Colmar). Each of them has traditional Alsatian half-timbered architecture, local vineyards and vintners (most of which offer wine tastings). A few still retain their medieval walls and towers.
Obernai is a good-sized town 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Strasbourg with lots of wineries, restaurants, shops, bits of medieval walls, half-timbered houses—in short, a great place to visit from Strasbourg in less than an hour by TER train.
This large town has all services, if you're passing through.
Mittelbergheim is a true village-among-the-vineyards, which come right up to, and intrude into, the hillside hamlet. Lots of photo opportunities and wineries with tastings, one hotel with a dining room, but few other services.
A larger town with a good selection of restaurants, old buildings, and wine-tasting possibilities.
The perfect small wine village for a romantic getaway, with a few charming traditional inns, such as the Maison d'Hôtes Les Jardins de Madeleine, the Hotel Arnold, and the Hotel Kiefer, with even more in the surrounding villages. More...
Orschwiller & Haut Koenigsbourg
The town of Orschwiller is pleasant enough, but its great attraction is the immense, ur-Teutonic Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg in the mountains on its outskirts. The huge medieval hilltop castle-fortress was restored by Kaiser Wilhelm II as a mythic symbol of German greatness. However fantastic, it's a must-see.
Colmar is perhaps the best base for visiting Alsatian wine villages and towns, as trains and buses travel daily to many of them.
Nestled at the foot of the Vosges mountains 18 km (11 miles) north of Colmar, 17 km (10.5 miles) southwest of the train station in Selestat (map), Ribeauvillé is among the prettiest and best-preserved of the Alsace wine towns. More...
Smaller than Ribeauvillé but just as charming, Riquewihr is surrounded by villages that come right up to the ancient walls and towers.
Officially Kaysersberg - Vignoble, this largish town straddles the Weiss river, with the ruined Château du Schlossberg on a hill near the center. Lots of places to taste wine and other regional products, to dine, and to shop. The neighboring village of Kientzheim, with its Musée du Vignoble et des Vins d'Alsace (Museum of Vineyards and Wines of Alsace) is only a pleasant 30-minute (2-km/1.25-mile) walk to the east through the vineyards. More...
Train or bus will take you from Colmar to lovely Turckheim in only ten minutes, making this charming small wine town among Alsace's most accessible.