There are few things I enjoy more than a good glass of wine, so when I discovered Alsace had its own Route du Vin, there was no way I was going to let that opportunity pass.
Snaking its way through the Alsatian countryside in the shadow of the Vosges mountains, the Route du Vin is so-called because of the many, many vineyards in the area. This is wine country and all around us, the fields and hills are filled with row upon row of grape vines. And all along the winding road are caves selling the wares made from these luscious green vines, the most tempting of which are the caves advertising cremant d’Alsace, the local fizzy, which I’d already sampled extensively and can attest is delicieuse.
Dotted along the Route du Vin are pretty little towns and villages, the most notable of which are Ribeauville and Riquewihr. We stopped at Riquewihr, a picturesque town of charming, brightly-painted timber houses, many of which have been turned into shops selling Alsatian produce for the visiting tourists, such as pretzels (above) and kougelhopf (an Alsatian cake shaped like a crown). A lot of the wine shops allow you to sample the produce before you buy, and we bought a local Riesling and a Sylvaner. I’m not a big fan of white wine, but the Riesling was very drinkable.
My favourite shop in Riquewihr was the cheese factory, an underground warehouse filled with huge rounds of stinky, yellow goodness. It might have smelt decidedly pongy, but the cheeses looked divine. The other shop worth a visit is the Christmas shop. It looks fairly innocuous from the outside, but step inside and it’s a never-ending cavernous lair dedicated to all things Christmas. I have never seen so many Christmas baubles in all my life.
The Route du Vin is fairly short, but it’s a lovely drive. The vineyards are very attractive, especially when the sun is shining, and the towns and villages charming. Plus there’s the added bonus of lots of wine just waiting to be tasted on practically every corner…