The French Wine Region of Alsace is a beautiful patchwork of forested rolling hills, valleys filled with quaint picturesque villages and hillside vineyards watched over by medieval castles. This charming wine growing region in the northeastern part of France lies in a valley along the Rhine River that separates France from Germany. While this small region might not be as well known as Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux, its vineyards are some of the oldest and highest quality found in France.
Time and again, I’ve been asked about the photo that tops Back Road Journal. It was taken high on a hill at the edge of one of the vineyards in Alsace on a misty day in September. You can see the beautiful patchwork of colors the vineyards create in the fall in the photograph that I mention below.
The colors of fall in the vineyards not only add to the scenic beauty of the area but it is also a wonderful time to visit Alsace. The grapes are ready to be harvested and after the harvest, the villages all celebrate with special wine festivals.
Click on any photo in this article to enlarge and see a slide show.
The Alsace Wine Road runs south from Strasbourg, with the Rhine river that borders Germany to its east and the Vosges mountains to its west, and continues down towards Colmar and just beyond. The wine route passes through beautiful villages, some with their medieval walls still surrounding them. Off in the distance, you often see ruins of a castle perched high on a hill top. Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, one of France’s most widely visited castles has been completely restored and should not be missed when in the area.
Cobblestone streets are lined with colorful half-timbered shops and homes that are laden with flowers giving the villages a look which will remind you of the fairytale books you read as a child.
Enjoy local region cuisine in one of small local bistros or winstubs where you might want to try one of the region’s specialties such as tart d’oignion, tarte flambee, quenelles de foie or the ever popular choucroute garnie with sauerkraut, sausages, ham, bacon, and potatoes. It is usually a very large serving and is hard to finish unless you share it with someone. We have eaten several times at Winstub au Rouge d’Ottrot in Ottrot. It is a very popular place with the locals from the surrounding area. If you would prefer a multi course fine dining experience and we have had them, head to one of the 30 or so excellent Michelin starred restaurants in throughout the Alsace region. Some consider the cuisine of Alsace to be some of the best in Europe because it has been influenced by not only the cooking of France but Germany as well. All I know is that it is delicious.
When you’re not tasting wine or having lunch, take time out to wander through the village’s winding little streets before heading to the next ancient village, some considered the most beautiful in France. Keep an eye to the rooftops where you may even spy a stock standing next to its large nest.
You can see why the wine growing region of Alsace, France is a place my husband and I have returned to year after year. We love the delicious food, wonderful wines and memorable sights. The majority of the well known Alsatian wine road lies between beautiful cities of Strasbourg and Colmar, making them or any of the charming towns in the area a good base for not only exploring the region but also the nearby countries of Germany and Switzerland which Alsace borders. I hope you will get a chance to visit this wonderful part of France someday. Picturesque villages tucked into valleys sometimes with a castle perched high up on a hill…that is what travel dreams are made of.