I recently had the pleasure of visiting Alsace in eastern France, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its Route des Vins. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the Gewurztraminers and Rieslings from Alsace are some of the finest on the planet. But I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it the way I have with fabled wine routes like Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits. From Champagne and the Loire Valley to Provence and the Côtes du Rhône, France has an abundance of wine regions (with hundreds of different labels distinguishing Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée or AOC). I’ve also been lucky to explore other vineyards around the globe (Turkey’s Cappadocia, New Zealand’s Marlborough, Spain’s Rioja, Virginia and California…)
But Alsace stands apart for its geographic beauty—think steep, vineyard-cloaked hillsides—and singularity of character in an area that’s been coveted since time immemorial. (Over the course of history, Alsace has been fought over by both Germany and France.) Stretching more than 105 miles, the Wine Route connects a string of fairytale villages with gingerbread houses, like Colmar and Kaysersberg. High above the ridge, ruins of castles loom over the valley. The terroir itself is prized because of its rich, varied soils and mineral content.
My favorite winery? The Domaine Weinbach, a centuries-old family-owned estate celebrated for its Grand Cru wines created by a female wine-maker, Laurence Faller.