Most of the significant wine regions in France have a signposted “route du vin” (see the new wine route in the Cher departement for example), but probably one of the best is the ALSACE WINE ROUTE which runs from just south of Strasbourg (67 Bas-Rhiin, Grand Est) southwards to the village of Thann (68 Haut-Rhin, Grand Est) by way of all the major wine villages and towns (Obernai, Barr, Bergheim, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Colmar, Pfaffenheim etc).
It is one of the best because
- the route is really pretty, offering copious choice of vineyards and attractive timber-clad village houses and
- it is well-signposted throughout its 170km ( over 100miles) length,
French signposting must be one of the dark arts designed to confuse and dumbfound the visitor – so often it all starts well, only for the signs to virtually disappear after a few kilmotres – they are either missing (through malice or oversight) or obscure placement. However, in Alsace, perhaps due to the Germanic element in their genes, things seem better organised and efficient. These routes are designed and managed by the local Syndicat des Vins, with winemakers contributing to the cost of the signage and other publicity. The local tourist office will have a map of the route with details of the vineyards and opening times for each winemaker. As a general rule look our for signs such as “Degustation” (tastings), “Vins Vrac et Détail” (Wines in bulk and retail) – almost all vineyards welcome visitors, and ask little more than for you to treat them and their wines with a little respect – there is no obligation to buy. In Alsace in particular you should not avoid the co-operative wine cellars – they often produce excellent wines, but the surroundings maybe a little less cosy than at individual growers.
Alsace also scores by extending the Wine Route idea with a series of cycle routes and vineyard walking trails – again well sign-posted and documented – so you can explore particular “terroirs” with a self-guided tour and get up close to the vines (except around harvest time). Most of the walks take about an hour – and there are also regular guided walks which will tell you more about the wines. For more info see https://www.alsace-wine-route.com
Particular recommendations for visits would be Mittelbergheim (Vins Boeckel), Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr (some of the very best producers such as Hugel) and Colmar with its canals
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