Coming from a country with a strong winemaking tradition, I've always found exploring famous wine routes to be a truly enjoyable experience. Over the years, I've been fortunate to visit several well-known wine regions and routes, including those in Chile (my home country), Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and Greece. However, I'm yet to visit a world of renowned wine producers in countries like the United States, South Africa, and Australia. This is a reminder that the journey of discovering wines is a never-ending one. Today, I'd like to pay tribute and share some recommendations based on my experiences along one of the world's oldest and most picturesque wine routes: Route des Vins d'Alsace.
The Alsace Wine Route is a famous trail in the Alsace region of France. It stretches around 170 kilometres from the north (near Strasbourg) to the south (close to Mulhouse), running alongside the eastern hills of the Vosges Mountains. This route takes you through charming villages, historic vineyards, and stunning landscapes. It's a fantastic opportunity to explore the region's rich winemaking history, taste wines, enjoy exceptional cuisine (with plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants), and become immersed in the local culture.
The Alsace Wine Region is renowned for producing a diverse range of wines, from dry whites to sweet sparkling varieties and rosés. Similar to Southern Germany, you'll find Rieslings, outstanding Gewurztraminers (I was so impressed that I bought two bottles from Achillée), and Pinot Gris. And, as you will notice from signs in each little town, the region's sparkling wine, called Crémant d'Alsace, is made from the Pinot Noir grape and is an absolute delight.
This diversity ensures that wine enthusiasts like me can enjoy various styles in one route. Combined with the region's picturesque scenery and culinary offerings, the Alsace Wine Route is a truly unique experience for wine lovers.
This fantastic wine and culinary journey is best enjoyed during the summer, particularly the harvest season from late August to October. While I've only visited Alsace in the summer, it's worth mentioning that many town events and Vendange (harvest) parties happen during this time. It's one of the reasons I'm already planning another visit next year.
Having explored this route twice, tasting great wines and dining at amazing restaurants, I'd like to share my recommendations to help you make the most of your visit to this picturesque and unique wine route.
Tip: if you have the chance to rent a convertible, trust me, it's worth the extra effort. Cruising in a convertible adds an extra layer of enjoyment, allowing you to fully take in the scenery, smells, and details as you travel between towns, wineries, and cellars.
10 towns you cannot miss in the Alsace wine route
All towns and villages you will visit will leave you in absolute awe. They're the definition of fairy tales which will appear in every Google search. From cobbled streets, to colourful timbered-walled houses, to beautiful narrow alleys and castles, you’ll immerse into ancient life while cruising one of the oldest wine routes in the world. Get ready to be wowed!
Eguisheim easily clinches a spot as one of my all-time favourite towns in Alsace. Seriously, the narrow streets, the vibrant colour of the houses – it's like stepping into a whole other world. And here's a fun fact: back in 2013, Eguisheim was crowned France's favourite village. Yep, it's that good.
Kaysersberg is the kind of town that sticks in your memory – a place where history, wine, and food blend together in perfect harmony.
This lesser-known town took me completely by surprise, leaving me in utter awe.
Riquewihr is yet another town that earns a top spot on the favourites list of countless travellers exploring the Alsace wine region. It's impossible not to fall in love with this little gem.
Another fabulous little town where you even get the chance to appreciate castle ruins from it's charming city centre.
Now, on the quieter side, there's yet another vibrant town that gazes out over the vineyards.
This town happens to be one of the larger ones in the area and makes for an excellent starting point if you're beginning your journey from north to south. Let me tell you, I had the best Quiche Lorraine of my entire life.
Scherwille is more of a commune rather than a town but it's one of those you'll be happy you stumbled upon.
Stepping away from the big crowds, you'll discover another peaceful town called Kintzheim.
And of course, saving the most famous one for last. Colmar, also known as Little Venice, is the true beating heart of the Alsace wine route. Imagine this: canals weaving through city centre, charming timbered houses and beauty overall. it's like stepping straight into a real-life fairy tale.
10 of the best critically-acclaimed restaurants in the Alsace wine route
The area is well known for having an amazing concentration of Michelin star restaurants that are in idyllic locations.
L'Alchémille (Kayserberg) - 1 Michelin and Sustainable Gastronomy. We went there and it was a truly unique experience.
L’Atelier du Peintre (Colmar) - 1 Michelin star
Restaurant Girardin (Colmar) - 1 Michelin star
JY’s (Colmar) - 2 Michelin star
Le Table d’Oiliver (Kayserberg) - 2 Michelin star
Julien Binz (Ammerschwihr) - 1 Michelin star
La Table du Gourmet (Riquewihr )- 1 Michelin star and Sustainable Gastronomy
Auberge Frankenbourg (La Vancelle) - 1 Michelin star and Sustainable Gastronomy
Enfin (Barr) - 1 Michelin star
Thierry Schwartz (Obernai) - 1 Michelin star and Sustainable Gastronomy
Pictures: A few dishes from the outstanding restaurant L'Alchémille + Alsace classics: Tarte Flambée, Quiche Lorraine and Tarte au citron
10 castles and ruins to visit
In addition to the wines and culinary scene, you can also visit a few castles and ruins, that will give you the best views of the entire Alsace region. Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, is one of the best preserves castles in the region, so if you don't have enough time, this is a must.
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
Château du Schlossberg
Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre
Château de Saint-Ulrich
Château de l'Ortenbourg
Château de Bernstein
Château de Haut-Andlau
Chateau du Landsberg
Château de Rathsamhausen
Château du Hohlandsbourg
Pictures: Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
Feeling a bit adventurous and up for a spontaneous weekend getaway? Now is the absolute best time to dive into this incredible region because the harvest season is in full swing.